Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Holidays

Gordie is spending Christmas with friends.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Twenty-Third of December

Twenty-third of december
Covered in snow
You in the kitchen
With the lights way down low
I'm in the parlor
Playing my old guitar
Speaking to you, darling,
To find out how you are
I wanna roo you,
Wanna get through to you
I wanna woo you,
Woo you tonight
I wanna roo you,
Wanna get through to you
I wanna woo you,
Woo you tonight

Come to me softly
Come to me quiet
Know what i'm after
I'm gonna try it

Snowstorm's on the way
We'll be stranded for a week
Come over to the window,
Look outside take a peek
I wanna roo you,
Wanna get through to you
I wanna woo you,
Woo you tonight
I wanna roo you,
Wanna get through to you
I wanna woo you,
Woo you tonight

You know I am lonely
And in need of your company
Oh, let your love light
Shine on down on me

And we can just sit here
Look at the fire
Watch the flames leaping higher and higher
Tea on the stove food in the pan
Ain't going nowhere and we don't have many plans
I wanna roo you,
Wanna get through to you
I wanna woo you,
Woo you tonight
I wanna roo you,
Wanna get through to you
I wanna woo you,
Woo you tonight

And you know i am lonely
I been in need of your company
Let your love shine on down on me
I wanna roo you,
Wanna get through to you
I wanna woo you,
Woo you tonight
I wanna roo you,
Wanna get through to you
I wanna woo you,
Woo you tonight

Woo you tonight, pretty baby
Woo you tonight, little darling
Woo you tonight, alright
Woo you tonight

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Hiding Your Sexual Orientation From Your Parents

This recently de-classified material is made available to readers of HotVimto on a need-to-know basis.

(Yes, I'm still working on my thesis.)

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

I'm Still Here

Hello, world of blog. I'm still here. I'm busy. I'm writing my dissertation and I don't have a lot of time for anything else. I'm happy, but feeling a lot of other emotions besides. (I have a wounded child to take care of. It's me.)

Sunday, 29 November 2009


Hello World,

Nothing really bad is happening in my life. Nothing really good, either. I'm just writing my PhD and that is the most important thing in the world, and it cannot be postponed any longer.

I love you all, each in your own way.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Comfort Eating

Note to self: too much 'comfort eating'. I need to lose some weight.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Anti Bullying Week

In the UK, this week has been Anti - Bullying Week.

Yep. There's still a lot of it about. So, we're spreading positive messages, encouraging the youth to be confident and support one another .

There'll be another wacky, zany, dark and gloomy blog post along soon.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Killing Floor


Do not leave satsumas where you can tread on them.

They don't complain like kittens do, but, as they die, their juices soak into your stocking, and you feel as though your foot needs its nappy changing.

(Just sayin'...)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

There's a Fire still Burnin'

Things I found while looking for my father:
  1. The blues
  2. Bars
  3. Smoke-filled rooms
  4. Dirty women.
I had actually discovered all of these things before the old man passed away, but I never got to share them with him. He was weak and scarred and scared, and no longer the stud he had been in his navy days. He complained about the noise at a couple of my parties, and helped me once when I got pulled in by the police, and that was about it.

After he was gone, I went looking for lessons in how to be a man. And I went looking in the company of women. Not the normal way of doing it, I think, but it just seemed to me that the old John Wayne and Clint Eastwood type of masculinity was all washed up and nowhere to go.

I was sorry that John Lennon wanted to be with Yoko rather than Paul, and Marc Bolan ended up wrapped around a tree rather than Gloria Jones [G.L.O.R.I.A], but you know, I was right. It was the late twentieth century, and the way to be a man was to listen to the ladies, and find out what they wanted.

Mary Coughlan knew what she wanted.

I got a heart that's broken hearted,
How do I mend it?
I got a crying jag that's started,
How do I end it?
Well, honey, if you're gloomy
Come around and do me
Meet me where they play the blues

A day or two ago, I started singing this song to myself. (Yes, dear reader, I had a 'crying jag'. ) It's an old jazz standard from the twenties written by Jack Teagarden, but Ms Coughlan, being a fine, forthright, hard-drinking Irishwoman from County Galway, upgraded the lyrics a bit so that you knew exactly what was on her mind.

And you know, there's crying yourself to sleep, and there's crying yourself to sleep. Sometimes , the experience can be improved, without in any way changing the underlying mood or denying it, by matching it to the right music and the right company.

People have said they've seen you dance
In hideaway places
People have said you find romance
In others' embraces
Well, honey, if you're dreamy
Come along and see me
Meet me where they play the blues

Eyes that flirt with a tear
Are common round here
And misery loves company, they say
So I'll linger 'til dawn
While the trumpet wails on
And I'm hopin' you'll happen this way

I'm sick and tired of sippin' wine
And watchin' the bubbles
How did our dreams get out of line
And land us in trouble?
Well, honey, if you're learnin'
There's a fire still burnin'
Meet me where they play
I want you wehre they play
Meet me where they play the blues

Monday, 9 November 2009

Sunday, 8 November 2009


You can knock me down
But I won't get up again.

Saturday, 7 November 2009


York. So good they named it once.


Eventually you realise
the creature in the woods
doesn't want to kill you.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

When Two is Not Enough

This morning I feel afraid.

I feel afraid of someone I haven't seen for a long, long time, who is no threat to me any more.
Maybe I'm not afraid of the person so much as the fact that I tried and failed to get that person to respect my wishes and not hurt me.

I have two strategies with difficult people: a simple strategy and a subtle strategy.

The simple strategy is that I say "please don't do that, I don't like it", as kindly and as clearly as I can, and if that doesn't get a result, I withdraw. I mean I leave the room, and only come back when I'm ready.

The subtle strategy doesn't work.

Today I'm just not happy with having the two options of the simple strategy. I don't know why. There are problem of you out there who recognise the dilemma. I have no name for it, I'm unable to let go of it, and though I feel completely safe, I am afraid.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Dangers of Poetry

I have developed a crush on Ada, Countess Lovelace (1815-1852).

This is all the doing of Ms. Sydney Padua, animator, and author of the 'Lovelace and Babbage' comics, one of which adorns this post. She is even more besotted with Ada than I am. I quote: "Is there a support group for 'Someone you love is manic-depressive, and has been dead for 150 years.'?"

Ada was the daughter of Lord Byron, the poet, who was famously described as 'mad, bad, and dangerous to know'. Fearing that the child might have inherited her father's 'wild blood', which we would now recognise as manic depression or bipolar disorder, she resolved to have Ada educated in mathematics, to save her from the dangers of poetry.

Ada became quite a gifted mathematician and is recognised as the world's first computer programmer, for the work she did on Charles Babbage's Difference Engine.

To follow the cartoon adventures of Lovelace and Babbage and fall helplessly in love (if you're mad enough) [*], visit the artist's website at 2D Goggles, and if you have a taste for outrageous Victorian science fiction, visit the Steampunk Art exhibition at the Museum of the History of Art, Oxford.

[*] Those of you who aren't the right kind of crazy to fall in love with a geeky, pipe-smoking, bi-polar English countess may swoon over the 'alpha dog' bad boy that is Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He's in the episode 'Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economy'.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

As If to Prove the Point

As if to prove the point in my last few posts, I went away for a couple of days and went on a boys' night out with an old friend from school. It says something good about me that I have old friends and new friends, and men friends and women friends.

Right now I'm sitting home alone with a glass of wine and some tunes on the stereo, (Supergrass, The Dead Weather, Taj Mahal) doing some computer repair and wondering about doing a little bit of writing between now and ten o'clock, when Match of the Day is on. Four matches and fifteen goals in today's programme. That promises to be worth watching.

I lit a scented candle twenty minutes ago, and just realised I can't smell it. That's because I didn't light it. Ah. Easily done, easily overcome. My mind is still good at freezing, distracting, burying. I don't need those bad habits anymore, but so far I haven't figured out a way of dropping them.

This thought just drifted into my head. I can't remember a time when I was less horny in my life. Not since I was ten, at any rate; but that was pre-history, a time when I had no knowledge of such matters, and no desire to look in the mirror, wash my hair, have good clothes to change into after school, or be able to play a guitar.

The bright, light, warm, sparkling side of my nature is very quiet at the moment. The dark, difficult, broody, cynical side is fading. Do you know how hard it is to throw away old, faded clothes, even when they don't fit any more?

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Choosing Life

I don't find it easy to explain this to anyone, but I'm finding it very hard to adjust to wanting to be alive. It's like waking up after a sex-change operation. Actually, no it's not, because people who opt for gender realignment have lived with the conviction that they truly belong to a gender that their body doesn't express.

This is more like being given my eyesight, a great gift, undoubtedly, but one that I have always managed to live without. I'm not sure what to do with it.

For several months, I said the words that I always say, "I hate my life", my familiar Tourettian outburst of despair, and the words rang hollow, untrue, and archaic, like saying "Gadzooks" or "Verily". And recently, I've entered into a phase of life where no part of me is pulling me towards death any longer.

This is exceedingly strange and unfamiliar. I have left it a bit late, really. I am going to have to live to hundred to make up for what I've missed out on. And I'll have to find a job I can do 'til I'm ninety, because I'll never get a pension. Somebody will have to pay for me to stay in nice hotels.

I'd better finish this PhD, hadn't I?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


"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"

I apologise to any twenty-one year olds who read Hot Vimto, but Ladytron's "Seventeen" is one kick-ass tune. And it makes me feel happy, in a demented, teenage kind of way.

I know, I know... I'm living my life in the wrong order. But the Sex Pistols had a song called Seventeen, and it started like this:

"You're only twenty-nine
Got a lot to learn
But when your mummy dies
She will not return"
WTF that was meant to be about, I never knew. Sneering, probably. (Why wasn't it called "Twenty Nine"?) Still, the Pistols turned out to be the plastic fork, when what really mattered the chips and curry sauce.

When I was seventeen, my father had been dead six months, and I was starting to read philosophy. He'd been a long time dying, and now he was gone, I was ready to start looking for him. I discovered TS Eliot, and identified with Prufrock. I read Tarantula by Bob Dylan, and thought it was crap, and copied him anyway. I listened to a lot of Elvis Costello, the early albums, when he was dark and cynical and sexy and soulful. I listened to Astral Weeks, and Miles Davis. I lusted after older women. It was the right thing to do.

It is strange to think, that if I have children of my own, it'll be with someone who was born after punk. "No Future? Whatever happened to that?" I hear Steve Jones lives in California, and has his own radio show.

I've lived my life in the wrong order. It was the right thing to do. I've finished, so I'll start.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

My Favourite Cat

I want to talk a little bit about depression and creativity.

There was a time when depression was a demon sitting on my chest, a stomach full of acid I couldn't throw up, an undertow in the water, a dark magnetism stealing life from me. Now, depression is like a favourite cat that sleeps on my bed.

There are people we love in our lives, and animals and places and moods and posessions. Some of them, we wouldn't be parted from, no matter how bitter or heavy they can be, because they remind us who we are, and our reason for being in the world.

"We are wounded again in the same place" writes Jeanette Winterson, and I know what she means. "This doesn't turn us into victims. Rather, we are people in search of a transformation of the real."

When I write, I am on that kind of a search. To say something true, and be heard by someone else. To share, and be transformed.

I learned I could write when I was six or seven years old. It was the most wonderful thing I'd ever known since I learned to read. The most empowering thing, the thing with the most integrity, and yet... it opened a door to a world of forbidden things.

In my family, there are stories you don't tell.

I am a survivor, from a family of survivors. And I never wanted to survive. To flourish, yes, but to survive, no. It makes very little difference whether I am the corpse and you are the pall bearer, or the other way around. The year I discovered I could write, I discovered death. People around me started dying. I didn't make them die; I know that. But I asked questions, and I learned what people do and don't talk about, and what grown ups are afraid of.

The year of six and seven was the year I was expelled from the Garden of Eden. I had eaten from the tree of knowledge, and life would not be the same again.

Last week, my mother showed me some writing. It was quite a shock to me. It was mine. They were poems I had written, but not in my writing; they were in my nana's handwriting. My grandmother must have taken my books and copied out my words to keep for herself.

From the moment I learned to write, I learned to censor myself, to please others. That lies heavy on me, and always has done. And I know that I censored myself to protect my family.

We are people in search of a transformation of the real. And my favourite cat sleeps on my bed, and I have bad dreams, and I hear her purring.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Highs, Crashes, and Withdrawals

We are wounded again in the same place. This doesn't turn us into victims. Rather, we are people in search of a transformation of the real.

The creative capacity to do this is extraordinary. Art isn't a surface activity. It comes from a deep place, and it meets the wound we each carry.

Although I knew I had plenty of personal failings, and that my mental states were unreliable, I also knew that I could do the work.

I have never taken antidepressants because I couldn't face the flatness.

I preferred the highs and the crashes, even though it meant the rages and the withdrawals, and anyway, I'd rather have my own suffering than someone else's solution.
Wall Street Journal
October 17th, 2009
(read the full article)

Home Again

I've been away for a few days working, and I went to see my mum and took her to Blackpool Illuminations. She used to take me to see them when I was a child, so it was a nice treat for us both.

Now I'm back home and facing more work on my PhD (Be brave, Gordie...) The weather is starting to get chilly, and my cat Charlie is spending most of her time curled up beside me. I'm letting her sleep on my bed at night.

Here is a picture of Charlie when she was little.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

To Advance An Honest Mind

Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear,
No where
Lives a woman true and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

Monday, 12 October 2009

At Seventeen

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear-skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired

The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say "Come dance with me"
And murmered vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems at seventeen

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Near Death Experience

I had an utterly mundane six hour journey to Liverpool today, apart from an interesting two minutes.

To the dude in the Mini Cooper who chose not to plough into the back of my car at 100mph, and chose instead to roar past me on the long grass, lurching to a halt like a Soviet spacecraft in a cornfield... thank you.

And to anyone who might have had influence on the fact that this incident happened in the short stretch of road where there was grass between the carriageways and not barriers, thank you,too.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;

I watched a TV documentary on T.S. Eliot last night. I had quite forgotten the impact this poem had on me when I first read it. I was seventeen; it was a few months after my father's death.

According to the documentary, the third line of 'Prufrock' marked the beginning of modern poetry. Funny that, because to me, the word "etherised" sound hugely old fashioned. I guess that's the problem of trying to be modern: the word that signals that a work of art belongs to today's world is the one that gets out of date very quickly.

Prufrock is a monologue, of two men walking through town at night, one telling the other the tale of his life. It hardly seems to be a "Love Song" but I intuitively understood that was the whole point.

It tells the story of a young man who leaves a party, where the women are talking, and goes for a walk with his friend on a foggy night, and tries to talk about what the hell is going inside him.

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
As I said, I had completely forgotten how much this poem mattered to me when I found it. I was a man-child full of overwhelming questions.

Not that different from how I am today, really.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Do your work, then step back


Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.
Tao te Ching

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Taking Tiger Mountain

We climbed and we climbed,
Oh, how we climbed
My, how we climbed
Over the stars to the top
Of Tiger Mountain
Forcing the lines through the snow.

Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Childlike Vision

"Down Cyprus Avenue
With the childlike vision
sweeping into view..."

I'm sorry I haven't written here very often recently. I've spent the last nine weeks concentrating on my PhD, as hard as I possibly can, in the hope that I would deliver something interesting for the start of term.

Writing a PhD is like writing the biggest essay ever (mine will come in at around 75,000 words) and there are only two things you need to know.

  • First, it must be an original work;
  • Second, it can't be an original work.

All PhD students inhabit this strange space, because we have to express our original ideas with references to lots of other people's work, in peer referenmced journals. Originality, in the form of a footnote.

I live through my words, and when I can't write (or talk) I feel like I'm in quite a traumatic place. And trying to express myself in the borrowed language of an academic tradition makes me feel like a character in a Kafka story. I understand now why deaf people feel liberated by having their own sign language, and diminished by mouthing a vocabulary they never heard spoken.

Then on Wednesday, I had a dream, that said my PhD only needs me to write 500 words.

This is, of course, not true. But I grasped what the dream meant was, I needed to write the first 500 words of my theory chapter, guiding the reader into my topic, like that bloke Dante meets at the start of the Divine Comedy [I think you mean the poet Virgil. Ed.]

I sifted through my notes and drafts, and wrote round, like a circle in a spiral, for a day, just thinking about the question of how I would talk to a reader who knew nothing about my research, and introduce them to six or seven authors and ten ot twelve key ideas, that I needed to explain my findings.

It came to 620 words, and I was starting to feel good. Then I wrote down my opening sentence.

This is the story of a market located in a city.

Then I crossed out "located" and wrote "embedded". (A bit more academic.)

Then I just crossed out "embedded" and didn't put anything.

This is the story of a market in a city.

Ten words, plain English, and it's all I need.

Because every arcane, and pretentious and high falutin' (and ultimately, academically respectable, which is what a PhD needs) concept that I need to talk about, and every author I need to cite, is an aspect of how people research markets, and the future of cities. So that's that.

Now, I have found my beginning, and I can walk to the end.

In my beginning is my end.
In my end is my beginning.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Autumnal Equinox

It's not often that I wake up in the morning and feel so brilliant that I want to blog about it. (When I say "not often", it has never happened before. It's just me being English and understated for once.)

Last night I slept well, and I woke up around 3:30 (which happens a lot) and went straight back to sleep (which hardly ever happens) and went my alarm clock went off, my first thought was "Oh, good, it's morning". This, people, is not what I have been used to.

I've always loved Autumn. I don't know why, but it's like my springtime, a time for rebirth, and new beginnings. Happy Autumnal Equinox, everyone.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Train of Thought

Term's about to start again. Students are preparing for nights of drinking and partying, and occasional trips to the library; and I'm chained to the laptop for the seventh week in a row, doing my best to finish the world's longest PhD thesis. Ho hum.

It was different when I was seventeen, and on my way to interviews. I took the train from Preston down to Birmingham, feeling so nervous that I went and hid in the toilet, and sang 'Astral Weeks' to myself.

"If I venture in the slipstream
Between the viaducts
of your dream
Where the immobile steel rims crack
And the ditch and the back road stop....

... to be born again."


I can't remember much about the day, apart from the escalators at New Street station, a very nice book shop,and the length of the lecturer's moustache, like Anthony Sher in The History Man.

We talked about evolution, and religion, and I'm not sure what else. My father had been dead for not quite a year, and I was ready to make a new start.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Fathers and Sons

After a day of remembering, (and a little re-imagining), today is Talk Like A Pirate Day.

So here's Jack Sparrow for you, talkin' the talk and walkin' the walk, with his dear old dad, a.k.a. the world's most dignified drug abuser, Keith Richards.

What I couldn't have learned, from a father like that...

Like the man says: it's not about living forever.
It's about living with yourself forever.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Still Daddy

It's that day again; that special anniversary I blogged about a year ago. For the third year in a row, I've been remembering my stepdaughter, sitting at the foot of the oak tree we planted for her, with pages from my PhD, which I still haven't finished.

And it ain't nobody's fault but mine.

Nowadays, there isn't anybody in my life who calls me 'daddy'. If I hear the name, I'm the one who's speaking. It's my own voice, my inner child, the voice of my creativity. Asking for strength, reassurance, and courage.

For me, writing is, and always has been, the voice of integrity, the voice of enthusiasm, the voice of a young, playful, powerful six year old who has seen a lot of life, but is still enthusiastic, and knows that he's going to make something of his life.

I sat down at my desk writing at 6:45 this morning. I wrote good words. But by eight o'clock, my creativity had ebbed away. Damn. I have a full day ahead of me. I need to persevere.

I am going to make something of my life.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

All Work and No Play

I've said it before, I think. All work and no play makes Hot Vimto a dull blog.

I'm trying to write my PhD thesis (again) and this time, I'm determined to do something I can be proud of.

It's a lonely, solitary task, and for three or four weeks now I've had blinkers on, and been very focused on my destination. Until I get there, I'll be here in my rustic retreat, with the autumnal rain tapping on my window.

See you all again soon.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

A Boy's Desires

I WANT to get out of here.

WANT to go to the moon or some other planet.

WANT to find some unicorn DNA and then grow a bunch of them and teach them to impale Claire’s friends with their horns.

from Dave Eggers' excellent short story, Max at Sea, in this week's New Yorker magazine.

I think unicorn DNA is the best revenge fantasy I've heard for a while!


I love autumn. A slight drop in the temperature, and a little bit of damp in the air, and I feel more creative, want to work, want to write, want to produce.

However, it's still August, for fuck's sake.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Destroy Everything You Touch Today

Kali, the Creator / Destroyer

I was never that sure about destruction; right from the moment I first took an engine to pieces, dismantled every cog and nut, and then I realised that what I really wanted to do was put it all together and make it work.

Punk was very good at encouraging me to destroy things, and I suppose in my twenties I learned a lot about finishing things off and Moving On, and what good things you can do with anger, if you learn how. It was very wise of the Hindu religion to have a mother goddess who was also the goddess of destruction. But I never really learned to embrace destruction; it just seemed... well, too destructive.

I'm an innovation consultant now, and one of the Big Names in innovation is an economist called Josef Schumpeter, and he wrote about "waves of creative destruction" - a marvellous idea, that as part of making the world anew, there were all kinds of things that needed to be destroyed, and swept up and tidied away, because they had their day and served their purpose, and it was good that they make room for something new.

It reminds me of a story of a Budhhist monk who always drank out of a very nice cup; one day somebody said to him: "you're not supposed to get attached to possessions. Does it not bother you that one day that cup is going to break?" And the monk said: "I know that really, it's already been broken, so I just make sure that I enjoy it as much as I can."

This is my company song, and every morning, I want to come into my office and get the whole team to sing it.

When you stop worrying about whether something in your life might get broken, maybe that's the time to destroy it, and make room for something else.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Inspirational Joker Pussy

My thesis has turned me into a menace to society.

I'm searching for inspiration. Writing the methodology chapter of my PhD thesis, which feels as dry as dust, and I don't want it to be, because it's an interesting topic, it's just that the conventions of academic writing mean I'm not allowed to perform it like stand up comedy, or perform it like a dialogue.

I don't even know if I'm allowed to say the word "I". So meh and fiddlesticks. A decision was taken to explore, yada yada

I am going to sink into a deep bath of warm, bubbly water, and play Jeff Buckley very loudly. Fuck you, world of dust-covered library shelves. I shall be interesting!

Thursday, 13 August 2009


I have a folder of music on my hard drive called "Play Once Then Kill" In it are all the MP3's I've downloaded and never listened to. How the hell did I miss this one? I downloaded it on the 25th August 2006 and it has been sitting there until this morning, confident and patiently waiting.

Black Box Recorder was the band that Luke Haines set up after he left The Auteurs, and The Auteurs pretty much defined my early-nineties sexual persona. But this song is like catching sight of your face in the bathroom mirror on a very cold winter's morning, and remembering what you were dreaming about.

If you don't like the song, fast forward the video and just watch the last ten seconds; it's a killer. It's a true story.

When boys are just eleven
They begin to grow in height
At a faster rate than they have done before
They develop curiosity
And start to fantasize
About the things they have
Never thought of doing before

These dreams are no more harmful than

The usual thoughts that boys have
Of becoming football stars or millionaires
As long as the distinction
Between fantasy and fiction remains
It's just a nature walk
It's just the facts of life

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Mad Men

Lately I've developed a real crush on Don Draper. I know. Strange, isn't it? I watched about half of series one, got hooked on series two, and bought myself series one on DVD for my birthday. Which I keep watching over and over.

The world of Mad Men is somehow contemporary, but just historical enough that I don't feel contempt for people who are superficial and glamorous. I have photographs of my parents and relatives in 1960's suits and dresses, and I can remember flicking through ancient Reader's Digest magazines full of adverts like Sterling Cooper make. (Did anybody else have a Reader's Digest childhood? There was always an article 'I Am John's Scrotum' or something.)

I'm fascinated by Don Draper's character. He reminds me of my father in my parents' wedding photographs. He's confident, and successful, and he's vulnerable. I like reading all the contradictions and nuances of the man, which I never could do with my real dad.

You can see that he has emotions, because he has brilliant ideas at work that come from the empathy he has for people. And Don likes women; he feels comfortable around women in a way that the other men don't (especially not the odious Pete Campbell).

My father used to talk about his childhood. It wasn't a happy childhood, and his stories used to scare the hell out of me. We don't hear Don Draper talking about his childhood, but we see the flashbacks.

I remember a scene from the end of Series Two when Don gets his tarot cards read, and the woman he's with (I think she might be the original Mrs Don Draper) tells him that the cards say he's connected to all the living things in the world.
"The only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone."
That was a good statement for me. I wonder if it would have meant something to my father, as well?

Monday, 10 August 2009

Nowt so Queer as Folk

A work of art (allegedly) photographed in King's Cross.

I've been wondering what 'fake hookers' are. Do they have sex with you, then pretend to take money? Or do they take your money, and then pretend to have sex? (I thought that was what real hookers did.)

People in London make their lives very complicated.

King's Cross was, and probably still is, one of the railway termini where young men and women would arrive from the North looking for glamour, wealth and fame. A lot of them would be recruited into being prostitutes and rent boys. The manager of Tottenham Hotspur was arrested kerb crawling for hookers at King's Cross. So was one of Brother Beyond.

Two months after this record came out, there was a huge fire at King's Cross tube station. About 30 people died. It was quite eerie listening to the song after that. The film is by Derek Jarman.

The man at the back of the queue was sent
To feel the smack of firm government
Linger by the flyposter, for a fight
It's the same story every night
I've been hurt and we've been had
You leave home, and you don't go back

Someone told me Monday, someone told me Saturday
Wait until tomorrow and there's still no way
Read it in a book or write it in a letter
Wake up in the morning and there's still no guarantee

Only last night I found myself lost
By the station called King's Cross
Dead and wounded on either side
You know it's only a matter of time
I've been good and I've been bad
I've been guilty of hanging around

Someone told me Monday, someone told me Saturday
Wait until tomorrow and there's still no way
Read it in a book or write it in a letter
Wake up in the morning and there's still no guarantee

So I went looking out today
For the one who got away
Murder walking round the block
Ending up in King's Cross
Good luck, bad luck waiting in a line
It takes more than the matter of time

Someone told me Monday, someone told me Saturday
Wait until tomorrow and there's still no way
Read it in a book or write it in a letter
Wake up in the morning and there's still no guarantee

Someone told me Monday, someone told me Saturday
Wait until tomorrow and there's still no way
Read it in a book or write it in a letter
Wake up in the morning and there's still no guarantee
And there's still no guarantee
There is still no guarantee
Words and Music by NEIL TENNANT and CHRIS LOWE

Thursday, 6 August 2009

This Is The Day

If you watched Kirsty Wark interview the founder of Twitter on Newsnight last night, you wouldn't have thought she made her name by ripping apart Margaret Thatcher in an interview, long, long ago in a galaxy far too close to home, when Mrs Thatcher needed to be given a bit of the sort of treatment she gave to almost everybody else.

The mature, discerning Kirsty Wark turns out to be obsessed with celebrities, and she wanted to know how we can be sure Demi Moore is real (a query that has to be on a par with wanting to know Father Christmas' blood group, although it could have been "ironic", in inverted commas. )

The experience left me craving the simple, innocent despair of my youth. Here is a video from The The, a band who will soon be forgotten, because you can't search for them on the Internet.

I like the way he takes the old blues line, "I woke up this morning" and completely negates it, and sings to a woman who looks like a miserable Emma Thompson. (The sort doctors prefer.) Even the presence of accordions cannot make this song cheerful. But I have to say, it made me feel much better in the dark.

Well, you didn't wake up this morning
Because you didn't go to bed
You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red
The calendar on your wall is ticking the days off
You've been reading some old letters
You smile and think how much you've changed
All the money in the world couldn't buy back those days

You pull back your curtains
And the sun burns into your eyes
You watch a plane flying
Across a clear blue sky
This is the day
Your life will surely change
This is the day
When things fall into place

You could've done anything If you'd wanted
And all your friends and family think that you're lucky
But the side of you they'll never see
Is when you're left alone with the memories
That hold your life together ... like glue

You pull back your curtains
And the sun burns into your eyes
You watch a plane flying
Across a clear blue sky
This is the day
Your life will surely change
This is the day
When things fall into place

This is the day your life will surely change
This is the day your life will surely change
This is the day your life will surely change
This is the day your life will surely change
Words and Music: MATT JOHNSON

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Fortunately, this is one delusion I don't have.

Saturday, 1 August 2009


Everything is tentative.
I don't mean provisional. I mean tentative.

Friday, 31 July 2009

A Close Watch

Never win and never lose
There’s nothing much to choose
Between the right and wrong
Nothing lost and nothing gained
Still things aren’t quite the same
Between you and me

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep a close watch on this heart of mine

I still hear your voice at night
When I turn out the light
And try to settle down
But there’s nothing much I can do
Because I can’t live without you
Any way at all

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep a close watch on this heart of mine

Thursday, 30 July 2009

No Guilt

Needed new posters, so I bought them
I know the cost of stamps now
The thirty-first is when I pay the phone bill
(I told them I didn't even know anybody in Toronto)

Everyday at seven I've been watching Walter
I've been reading more and looking up the hard words
I met people who can get me on the guest list
My parents said that
They would help me pay for grad school

You know I had never washed a sweater
I never knew when my hair was too long
I got the cab calls out of my hi-fi
I learned a lot since you've been gone
I've done a lot since you've been gone

Not bitter - beat a vicious cycle
Typecast as the model couple
I'm sorry but I don't feel awful
It wasn't the end of the world
I'm sorry I can't be helpless
It wasn't the end of the world

I know someone who really met Belushi
I fixed the toilet so it doesn't always run
I moved a chair over by the window
I feel better if my laundry's done

Getting by on less sleep than I used to
I had no trouble in setting up a desk
I learned the reason for a three-pronged outlet
I got 100 on my driver's test

I got a trick to get them to deliver
I called the landlord when the water turned brown
Did you know I own some valuable records?
I've done a lot since you've been gone
I've learned a lot since you've been gone

Thank you for the chance to grow up
I'm sorry but I wasn't defeated
It wasn't the end of the world.
I'm sorry but I don't feel too awful
It wasn't the end of the world.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

All Work and No Play

All work and no play makes Hot Vimto a dull blog. And Gordie a dull playmate. Still, it's for the best. I have clients who need stuff doing, and a backlog of projects to clear. And I'm thinking that one day soon, I should start up a business blog.

I certainly need some marketing collateral to explain what I am to people who don't know me. (You don't know how hard that is. I've been trying it out on my mother.)

Until my eloquence and originality come back to me, here's a video from twenty years ago, when I thought that being a rebel was all about not joining in, and pretending I didn't give a shit.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Apollo 11

The perfect moon
Was huge above the sea
The surf was easy
Even on the reef
We were the lucky three
Who slid in our canoe
Through the flowers on the water
And tried to read the signals in the sky

We travelled with our necklaces of shell
The moon was waning
Through the nights and days
And how we dreamed of home!
But we couldn’t find the island
Where you trade the shells for feathers
We fainted in the sun’s reflected blaze

With cracking lips
I turned to tell my friends
The time had come for all of us to die
“She’s out a whole degree”
I told them as I floated
Checking readouts at my shoulder
“Re-enter at this angle and we’ll fry”

The go for override came up from earth
We took control
And we flew her with our hands
And how we dreamed of home!
We saw the South Pacific
As we fought to get her zeroed
Before the heat shield started hitting air

We came home in a roaring purple flame
And gave the mission
Back to the machines
We were the lucky three
The parachutes deployed
We were rocking like a cradle
As we drifted down in silence to the sea

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Put to the Test

54% HeteroGordie is 54% HeteroHow heterosexual are you? Try out any Twitter name and get the real picture. Are we really the words we use? (Thanks to Stockholm Pride for this.)

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


Right now I feel like a small boy that wants his daddy. That's been happening a lot lately.

You know what that means...

That means that if I go back far enough into my life, there must have been a time when I wanted him and trusted him, and loved him, and felt loved by him.

Or something.

The clouds overhead are getting darker all of a sudden, and I think it's about to start raining.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Wasteful and Useless

Okay, so this is how these things seem to work.

I decided I needed a bit of lie in this morning, as I was up for work at 5:30 yesterday morning. And I set the alarm for 8:10 and then ignored it. Got up at eleven.

Made a cup of coffee, and for no reason at all (other than it was Saturday, and I wasn't properly awake) started playing old mp3's I'd recorded off radio programmes.

I recorded this song on April 11th, 2006, and I don't remember ever listening to it. Until today.

Don't let me put you off. If you're doing battle with a cruel and vengeful God, keep battling. But today, I like this.

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be, we're all okay
And not to worry
'Cause worry is wasteful and useless
In times like these

I won't be made useless
Won't be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear

My hands are small I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
and I am never broken

Poverty stole your golden shoes
But it didn't steal your laughter
And heartache came to visit me
But I knew it wasn't ever after

We'll fight, not out of spite
For someone must stand up for what's right
'Cause where there's a man who has no voice
There ours shall go singing

My hands are small I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
and I am never broken

In the end only kindness matters
In the end only kindness matters

I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray

My hands are small I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
and I am never broken

My hands are small I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
and I am never broken
We are never broken

We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's heart
We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's heart
We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's eyes
We are God's hands