Wednesday, 16 April 2008

ADVICE TO PARENTS



I'm never going to be a parent. Period. It just isn't going to happen. For one thing, I'm WAY too selfish and I don't like the idea of my social life depending on having to find babysitters or find friends that also have rugrats. Secondly, I freak out when I'm left alone to look after a puppy or a kitten, so the idea of being left alone to care for a baby is probably a deeply terrifying one. Thirdly, I'm a fully paid up member of the Mox Club - I'm a gay, I suck cock and use industrial strength lube. So it's never going to happen naturally. Unless science comes up with something pretty bloody remarkable.

Thing is, though, although I am happy about the fact that I am never going to be a parent, I also think it's kind of a shame. Because, you see, I KNOW how children should be treated and brought up and it seems that most people who actual have them these days do not. They are completely and utterly and hopelessly clueless, for the most part. So, I have decided, in an act of pure and unselfish benevolence, to dispense my words of wisdom to the world, so that our children can have a bright and happy future and their parents can stop acting like a load of lobotomised idiots! Dr Benjamin Spock has absolutely nothing on me, I can tell you.

  • Right - so the first thing you need to realise is that the world is not full of perverts, paedophiles, murderers, dangerous drivers and so on. It is perfectly safe for your children to go out and play. They do not have to be confined to the house or the garden. In fact, that's doing them way more harm than good. How the hell do you expect them to become socialised and streetwise and independent if all they do is fire water pistols at their brothers and sisters in the back garden? Get a grip - they'll be fine - the world is probably a lot of a safer place now than it was in Victorian times, and Victorian children were, for the most part, not murdered. If they were then none of us would be around now.
  • Look again at my comment about dangerous drivers. I would like to revise it. The roads are only really dangerous because there is so much traffic on it. And most of the traffic on the roads when you are driving your progeny to school in your ridicuously huge, gas guzzling people carrier is other people driving their kids to school in their equally huge, gas guzzling people carriers. So it's simple. You should all stop doing it and then the problem would be solved. Your kids would be able to walk to school because there would be hardly any traffic. You probably don't realise this because you're probably never out on the roads during school holidays. But you should try going for a walk at 8:30 in the morning during the summer break. You'd be amazed.
  • There is absolutely no reason for anyone else to give a shit about your kids. I don't mean that they wish harm on them, or that they won't do whatever they can to protect them and keep them safe. But they are YOUR kids - you chose to have them (or to keep them) and they are, therefore, your responsibility. If that causes you problems, for example, at work, then there is only so much help that you can expect other people to give you before they start feeling a bit resentful. Sooner or later, you're going to have to accept that having children involves making sacrifices. The very best parents realise that these sacrifices extend to more than having droopy boobs or not being able to go and watch the footie in the pub EVERY Saturday.
  • When you go into a restaurant with your kids, or a cafe, or even MacDonalds, there are certain standards of behaviour that is expected of them. You should know what these are, but here are a few pointers: they should not be allowed to run rounding screaming and play fighting and annoying other people trying to enjoy their food; they should not be allowed to throw their food onto the table or the floor rather than eating it; they should not have tantrums and, if they do, they should be taken home immediately - IMMEDIATELY. In addition to this, you need to realise that if you buy your little kids adult sized drinks then they won't finish them - and that's a waste. So don't. Also, restaurants and cafes are not really suitable environments for little babies. Get a babysitter. Or invite friends round to your place instead.
  • Speaking of which - things like milkshakes and cookies and pizzas and cheeseburgers should be thought of as treats. If you let your children have them every day they will end up obese and they will think that they can have whatever they want whenever they want it. This means they will grow up to be complete cunts.
  • Prams and pushchairs are not battering rams. They are to transport your child safely so that you can do stuff - they are not designed to sweep other people out of the way and off the pavement. They don't make you invincible - if anything, having your child with you should make you even more safety conscious and people aware.
  • Baby On Board stickers are just fucking stupid. So you have a child in your car - so fucking what?
  • Dogs sometimes bark at children - it's because children behave erratically and sometimes make sudden, high pitched noises. They also tease dogs sometimes and some dogs have learnt this. It doesn't mean the dog is going to maul your child to death. Chill out a bit, for goodness sake!
In fact, that would be my advice to parents in a nutshell. Chill out a bit, for goodness sake. Follow the sage advice of Dr Jimmy Catsup and you will have happy, fulfilled children - and other people won't think you are the scum of the earth!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

SECRET LIFE



OK - so let's get one thing straight - I am a USELESS blogger. I made a resolution as I was walking home from work today that I would get better. That I wouldn't wait for inspiration but that I would write about my life so that people who know me and people who don't get a better idea about what's going on for me on and off this tiny little island. It's the only way to unlock my blocked creativity. But first I think I need a fresh start. There have been LOADS of things lately that I really really should have blogged about, but never got round to. So, to wipe the slate clean, here is a brief and nasty summary of all those things.

  • We spent a week in London and Amsterdam. The highlight of London was taking our friend Rachel to Duckie at The Vauxhall Tavern. She loved it and it loved her. The lowpoint was an absolutely bogging breakfast in the Angus Steakhouse. The bacon wasn't even cooked and, when I complained about it, the waitress went off to the kitchen and then proceeded to bitch about us really loud in Polish. We flew to Amsterdam in the middle of the worst storm for 20 years, but it was so worth it. We stayed on a ghetto houseboat in the Oosterdock (I think that's how you spell it) and had a whiteout on the first night because the weed was so strong. But The Sex Museum was hilariously stupid and I just loved the freedom of the place. We bought loads of porn. When we got home we learnt that our house must have been a pretty scary place to be in the eye of the aforementioned storm - apparently the waves were crashing OVER the roof. So we were pretty lucky that there was no damage.
  • Stephen Hawking annoys the fuck out of me. He has dedicated his half life to writing a load of inconsequential bollocks about stuff that doesn't matter. OHHHHHHH! So the universe is actually comprised of a load of strings - we can't prove that, but we can take it on faith - and that brings us close to a theory of absolutely everything. Thanks for that, spackattack!!
  • Customer Service Culture is killing off civilised society. People are turning into spoilt children who demand everything because they know that they will get it. We should be more like the French who seem to discard the idea that the customer is king - for them the customer is, at best, an equal. And I mean at best. That's the way it should be.
  • The new season of Doctor Who started. It was the best opening episode since Rose. Catherine Tate was wonderful and the little baby aliens looked like the Pilsbury Doughboy. The Pompeii episode (which is tonight) promises to be really scary. And you can't even hide behind our sofa!!
  • First I hated 4 Minutes by Madonna and Justin. Then I thought it was a bit of a non-event. Then, all of a sudden, it struck me that it's actually brilliant. And Justin Timberlake looks totally hot in the video. Who would ever have thought it? I bet Madge told him what to wear.
  • My friend Rob is returning from NYC in a little under two weeks. I've missed him more than I thought I would and I want to hang with him more when he's back.
So, there we go - I have a clean slate and I can start writing about stuff again without worrying about the stuff that I didn't write about. Tonight we are taking Emily out for boozy fun. Expect more on that tomorrow...

Friday, 11 April 2008

TURNING ROY CROPPER



There are, of course, many ways in which I am NOT like Coronation Street's Roy Cropper. For one thing, I am not married to a post operative transsexual. For another, I do not have an almost morbid fascination with defunct British Railway Station signs (though I DO think they're quite cool - oh God!) But I realised yesterday, as I was walking to the supermarket, that me and Roy do have a few things in common. Maybe a few too many things for comfort, to be honest.

For a kick off, I'm an incessant worrier. As I get older I realise just how true this is. I worry about making coffee too hot and then, having taken corrective action, I worry that I haven't made it hot enough. I worry when my other half puts a status on Facebook that I can't readily interpret. I worry about the damp in the house. I worry about the fact that I'm worrying too much. I'm doing that now. But I also do something else that I've noticed Roy doing - I reprimand other people for worrying. Sometimes I almost snap my words of reassurance at them "Don't worry! You know it will be fine - it's only a couple of days, so just stop worrying about it."

Then there's the fact that I work in a cafe. True - it calls itself a coffee shop and bears very little resemblance to Roy's Rolls, but it's still a cafe all the same. I still make cups of tea and coffee and put things on the grill and have banal conversations with regular customers. And I still do too much of it really to have the kind of sparkling social life that I would like (and Roy Cropper would probably like too!)

But the most worrying and convincing resemblance between myself and Roy is my shopping bag. See, I've come to realise that plastic bags are pretty evil. There's no need for them - they choke up the environment and take forever to rot. So I only get a couple of them a week now (just enough to use as rubbish bags - otherwise I'd have to BUY plastic rubbish bags and that would just be silly). Instead, I've got this little jute shopping bag from M&S that I carry with me to the supermarket. Thing is, Roy Cropper's been doing that for years. Me and my friends used to have a running joke about it. True, Roy's is on of those tartan old lady style bags, and mine is a bit more eco, but the image is still the same. I'm still a man with greying temples, past his best, shuffling to the supermarket carrying a ladies' shopping bag. So, yes, maybe it's time to get on e-bay and start looking for those vintage station signs...

*pours very un-Cropperish glass of wine*

Monday, 3 March 2008

LA VIE EN GONDRY



There is a beach. In winter. Perhaps it is the beach that I live on, but the climate is different - snow streaks horizontally across the horizon. The murder of crows still scavenge everything that is washed up on the high tide, but they are big. They are very big - it is as though a class of schoolchildren dressed in crow costumes and are looking for crabs, sea anenomes and razor clams in the rock pools. But the rock pools are forests - full of bears and squirrels and horses stitched together from felt. And I lie here, in my little rotating room, and listen to the sea rush up and down the beach, twice a minute, sounding like the rush of blood to the head when I fell in love.

The house is small from the outside. Inside it is a labrynth - a tangle of rooms that shift and morph like an Escher print. But in colour. But that can be moved through. But are a model and not an image. And to move through the rooms of the house is not to move at all because it is the house itself that moves. I want to piss so the cogs I cannot see turn and bring the toilet to me. I want to fry an egg so a book is opened and a kitchen pops up from the page. I want to sleep, so the floor slides the bed under me and the arms in the walls undress me and tuck me in.

I go to work. The shop is huge but I am bigger. Everything is suffering from giantism, but I still cannot stand up straight behind the counter. I am dressed as a crow. Maybe I am a child and maybe the cappucino machine groupers and the innards of sea anenomes. None of this is certain - life may be a dream. But it is a dream made by animators - everything is made of paper and fimo. And it pulses, sways in time to the music that accompanies me wherever I go. I can do things with my feet. Anything is possible.

Where is the sky? Inches above everything that stands below it? Or is it a vast orb that moves further away from us the closer we get to it? Is it a metaphor for my friend in Hamburg or New York who I love so but can never reach? Have we had our minds altered so that we can no longer remember? I'm in Schilpol airport and on my way and he is in JFK. I'm at JFK and he is watching paper aeroplanes crashing in stop frame elegance into a cellophane Alster. Life is about beauty and longing. But none of it is real.

And a crowd has gathered outside. They want to share in the joy that is in this little model house. They want to see the love that I have here and now projected onto the windows. They know that I have to stay here and that I maybe will never leave. We will never leave. Or will we? The ending is never certain - it is not a cul de sac. It's the dual carriageway that runs past Route Du Rock - probably I (and everyone else who is a part of my story) will never have a clear idea about where it leads. But that view - the unknown line running to who knows where - is beautiful. And it is enough.

And still there is the beach. And the sun is coming out.

Monday, 11 February 2008

YOU ARE WHAT YOU THINK



There are websites - very popular wesbites - that exist to do one thing. They exist to give people - mostly young women - advice on how to starve themselves to death. These pro-anorexia websites give advice on how to hide the fact that you're not eating, on how to be as thin as it's possible to be. They glorify images of skeletal women's bodies. They are famine fetish sites, basically. So, in the same way that something like boys-pissing.com sexualises images of young men taking a wazz on each other, these pro-anorexia websites sexualise and glorify images of young women who are literally wasted away - walking, breathing but barely living corpses.

Now this is very shocking, isn't it? That mediums exist to promote eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia nervosa. But here's something that I personally find even more shocking - a prime time Channel 4 show exists that does exactly the same thing. The eating disorder it promotes is Orthorexia, but it's presented as something healthy and positive, as a disorder that it's definitely desirable to have. But nothing could be further from the truth - Orthorexia is a dangerous disease and is on the rise. The fact that it is on the rise is due in no small measure to the TV show You Are What You Eat and to other similar fads.

So what IS Orthorexia?
It's an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Unlike the related anorexia, sufferers are concerned not with quantity but with quality. It's not about feeling fat, but about feeling pure.

Orthorexics exhibit an over-enthusiasm for pure eating and healthy food. In moderation, of course, this can be beneficial. In extremis, however, malnutrition, extreme weight loss and even death can result.

How do you know if you have it? Well, that's easy. If you are fixated on the purity and healthful benefits of the food you eat more than on the pleasure you derive from eating it then you are, to one degree or another, orthorexic.

Now, I have to be careful what I say about the programme You Are What You Eat or its host Gillian McKeith. A blogger who dared to criticise the stuff that is peddled by McKeith in the show received, not so long ago, a letter from McKeith's lawyers threatening her with legal action. So let me stick to the facts and then I will move on to what I believe the cure for orthorexia is.

Firstly, McKeith is not a doctor. In fact, the Advertising Standards Authority have ruled that it is against the law for her to describe herself as such. So she doesn't anymore. Secondly, some of the science she talks about in the series is blatantly ludicrous. For example, she states that the chlorophyll in plants oxygenate the body when you eat them. This is bollocks, frankly. Plants need light in order to transform chlorophyll into oxygen. There isn't a great deal of light in the human intestine. Even if there was, you wouldn't want to be producing oxygen down there since methane and oxygen are an explosive combination and you would basically be producing farts capable of blowing you up. She maintains things like the idea that flax seeds produce more omega fatty acids than fish. This is true, but you should try eating enough flax seeds that you would need to get as many of those fatty acids than you would get from half a pound of mackerel, which would be relatively easy to do. In the past, she has also done things like feelings people's stomachs in order to ascertain the health of their bowels. She doesn't do that anymore - maybe someone pointed out to her that you can no more tell the state of a fat man's bowels by feeling his stomach than you can work out the contents of his porn stash by sitting on his bed.

But I have an even more fundamental objection to McKeith's approach - and that it is that it is horrendously neo-liberal and right wing. If people are fat and die young then it because they are lazy, they have lived badly and have only themselves to blame. Never mind the fact that study after study has found that by far the overriding factor in early mortality rates is poverty. If you are poor then you will die younger than someone who isn't. And, yes, eating more fruit and veg will make you live longer, but it cannot and does not make your life expectancy the same as someone who does not live in poverty. This is a fact. So when McKeith lambasts and criticises and abuses her victims on You Are What You Eat, the chances are she is treating some of the more vulnerable members of our community in that way. I don't like that.

The reason that people have unhealthy diets is NOT because they eat red meat and dairy products and drink alcohol. Look at French people - they consume more of those things than any other people in the world, and yet obesity rates in France are remarkably low. In fact, this has come to be known as The French Paradox, but it isn't really a paradox at all. The fact is that French poeple sensually enjoy their food - the treat it reverently, they take their time on it and they concentrate on quality rather than quantity. They are the living, breathing proof of the fact that the maxim "everything in moderation" does, indeed, hold true. I touched on this in my previous post called Make Mine A Skinny Decaff Latte, so read that for a little more on The French Paradox.

Now here's something that may startle you and that you may find difficult to accept at first. The fact is that all this healthy eating talk of the type that Gillian McKeith espouses is actually just another form of capitalist hegemony. That's right - capitalist hegemony. I'll tell you below what I think healthy eating actually is, but let me say now that the type of healthy eating I believe in does not satisfy capitalists at all. They want to sell you Quinoa and soya milk and low fat, no dairy milkshakes because they make a hell of a lot more money from that than they do from anything else. If you go to Tesco and buy the ingredients to make an absolutely kick ass lasagne al forno, Tesco don't actually make that much profit from you. But if you buy a Tesco Finest lasagne you'll be eating something vastly inferior but Tesco will be laughing all the way to the bank. Don't let them get away with it - you'll find that you will be so much healthier in your mind, your body and your bank balance.

So how do you eat healthily? It's really easy and there are only five things you have to bear in mind - so much simpler than the big ring binder full of commandments that McKeith's victims are provided with.

1. Eat proper food. That is to say, food, not products. The way to do this is to not buy anything with more than five ingredients or with ingredients you can't pronounce and don't buy anything that someone 100 years ago would not recognise as food.

2. Eat less. By that, I mean concentrate on quality rather than quality. Buy organic rather than factory farmed meat - it will cost more, so you won't be able to buy as much, but that will be more than made up for by the way that it tastes.

3. Leaves are good for you. Eat loads of leaves because they're nutritious and cheap and they will never make you fat.

4. Don't eat anything that makes a health claim. If it makes a health claim then it's probably prepackaged and it's certainly messed around with. It's so much better for you to eat less of a really good strong cheddar cheese than it is to eat more of a reduced fat, reduced flavour version. Remember - for years people were eschewing butter for margarines that they were told were a healthy alternative. It turns out that these margarines contained transfats that turned out to be one of the most dangerous things for your health that it is possible to eat.

5. Enjoy food. Savour it, make it an occasion. Sit down somewhere other than at your desk to eat, and try to share as many of your meals as you can with someone else. If you can't do that, love yourself enough to take time and care to prepare food for yourself that is delicious and life affirming. Do not think of food as fuel, think of it as a sensual pleasure, like sex or art or music. It's THAT important!

That's it. It's that simple. Don't fall into the Orthorexia trap and don't go believing that food is something to be controlled and to be ashamed of.

And don't ,whatever you do, listen to Gillian McKeith. Here's why.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

URETHRA FRANKLIN




Shhh. I'm going to tell you a secret. Don't tell all your friends that I told you because they might hate you. And me. Okay?

Aretha Franklin is a big bag of piss. Her throat is a urethra and her mouth is a piss slit, gushing out loads of effluent and spraying anyone in the ear who gets too close.

That's an even less polite way of saying the thing that can be summed up thus: My God. I hate Aretha Franklin. She really is toss.

I think it was John Peel who mistakenly called her Urethra Franklin on Top of The Pops in the 80s. It might have been Mike Reid or Paul Gambuccini or David "Kid" Jensen. But I think it was John Peel and I think it was probably not really a mistake, if I'm honest. John Peel knew a thing or two about music, so I reckon he thought Aretha was a big bag of piss too. And a urethra empties a big bag of piss, doesn't it? Nah - I reckon he meant it.

What? You want me to qualify all that? Okay then.

There are of course exceptions. Aretha's performance of "Don't Play That Song" is stunning. Crystal clear. She hits every note with the most wonderful clarity. She's generous to the song - it's clear she loves it - and she wants it to shine through. "Think" is pretty darn lovely too. I'm sure there are other exceptions, but most of her work provokes a response in me far worse than fingernails down a blackboard - I haven't been able to bring myself to delve deep enough to find anymore hidden gems. So - now we've got that out of the way, let's get down to some serious hating.

Firstly, despite the fact that Aretha has got a fine set of lungs on her, she doesn't sing. She screams. In every performance I have heard (apart from the aforementioned "Don't Play That Song", the title of which seems increasingly ironic) she caterwauls so badly and so randomly that the songs just disappear. Take, for example, "I Say A Little Prayer." This song was written for her by two of the greatest songwriters of the 20th Century - Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It is the perfect marriage of music (soulful, easy, surprising) and lyrics (at times, pure poetry) - as all the best Bacharach and David songs are. Aretha was lucky to get it. So what does she do. She sings the first half of it pleasantly enough and then...then she just starts to SCREAM! And so you've got this beautiful Burt Bacharach piano groove going on with some mad woman having hysterics over the top of it. Aretha does this all the time. Even on "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" - you have Annie Lennox - her voice is deep, round and genuinely soulful. She's able to improvise around the melody and yet still manage to communicate a sense of what that melody is to the listener. Aretha just makes a horrible, horrible noise. At times it's genuinely like the gearbox crunching on a bus.

Secondly, she is responsible for the song "Respect". This song deserves only one response and that is this. "Bitch, PLEASE!" You want to know what this song is? It's the aural equivalent of Bodyform sanitary towels. It's a Diet Coke break. It's the Weighwatchers PurePoints programme. It's Terry's Chocolate Orange. It's skimmed milk. It's a compilation album called "Songbird". It's Take A Break magazine. It's Karen Millen. It's an article in Cosmo about how shit men are. It's Bridget fucking Jones' twatting Diary. To put it another way - this song represents that horrible media image of women as man hating, dieting, lazy self centred dickheads who don't want much - they just want to feed their shoe habit, be a size 8, eat loads of chocolate and, oh yeah, they just want a little respect too. Aretha never says why she feels she deserves respect - she just says she's about to give someone all of her money and she wants the profits in return. Way to go, sister.

Thirdly she makes some bloody terrible choices. That duet with George Michael was execrable. Who's Zoomin' Who would be considered the lame piece of shit that it really is had it been sung by Paula Abdul or Gloria Estefan (and that is anything but outside the realms of possibility - just listen to it!)

Anyway - I am sure Aretha is a lovely human being. I bet she'd be damn interesting to talk to. But I sense no pain in her screeching - not like in that of Etta James or Tina Turner. I just hear cash registers ringing. And that's always guaranteed to turn me right off.

Don't play that song again.



Next time: Bob Dylan off!!

Friday, 4 January 2008

TOO MANY TWINKS AND TARTS IN THE WORLD...

This is the story of how Jason Donovan nearly ruined my life...



In 1989 I turned 18. For about a year before that I had been pretending to stay at my mate Ste's house every weekend so we could rehearse with our band, I've Got The Drugs Madam. In reality, I've Got The Drugs Madam was me and a few mates messing about and what I was really doing was catching the train to Liverpool to get absolutely roraring drunk in gay clubs in a clumsy teenage attempt to get laid.

I've known I was gay since I was about five. Don't ask me how I knew because it was a weird mix of non-specific feelings that I had. But I just KNEW. And when I was sixteen I started to admit it to a select bunch of people. It took me quite a while before I could admit it to everyone. But, anyway, this is not a coming out story, so enough of that!

Everyone knows Kylie Minogue. And everyone knows that homos love her. She has lasted the distance. But when Kylie was first starting out her boyfriend was Jason Donovan, her co-star in Neighbours (the Aussie soap that we used to bunk off school to watch until they started showing it at 5:30pm too). And Jason fancied a bit of pop superstardom too, so he signed up with Stock Aitken and Waterman (Kylie's production team at the time) and launched a bid for world domination. It looked for a while like it might work - his single, Too Many Broken Hearts, was actually number one in the charts on my 18th birthday. That cunt.

See, the thing is, homos at the time were absolutely obssessed with him. They loved his softly square jaw, his floppy blonde hair and his cute little ass. His videos would play in every gay club I went to. Every free gay magazine that I hid under my mattress had him on the cover or elsewhere in its pages. He was everywhere, like proverbial shit in a field.

There was a big problem, though. I absolutely fucking hated him. His music sucked balls. He was creepily clean cut looking and I found him, to be honest, pretty repulsive. I liked men. Men with beer guts and beards and big arms and legs and gruff voices. And this started to worry me because, in Liverpool, it seemed as though there was no-one else alive that liked the same things that I did. Even my best friends loved Jason. I actually began to wonder whether I was really gay at all.

Let me repeat that. I actually began to wonder whether I was really gay at all.

So I pretended to like Jason Donovan. I even stuck a picture of him on my bedroom wall (only a little one, and it was on the other side of the piano where I couldn't see it most of the time, but it was there nonetheless) as a way of proving to myself that I really was a proper, fully fledged homo after all. And this seemed to work. It was harmless, didn't really affect me in any real way and, in a vague fashion, reassured me that I could grow up liking men.

Then something happened. I met someone called Mark who went to theatre school in Liverpool (oh, you faggots!) I found him fascinating. He was into Talking Heads and They Might Be Giants (who no-one except me was into at the time - this was even before Birdhouse In Your Soul). He read Sylvia Plath and Thomas Hardy. He was the same age as me, but he had his own flat (on the same street John Lennon had grown up in) and didn't speak to his parents anymore. He had a double bed and loads of us would be allowed to get completely fucked up on booze and weed and then crash out on it.

And he would secretly wank me off under the covers while we were all there.

And he was desperate to be my boyfriend.

And he looked just like (and I mean JUST like) Jason Donovan. Aw, shoot!

I gamely resisted for quite a long time. Thing is, I liked him a lot. We made each other laugh and we always felt invincible together when we were staggering through Toxteth at 2am. At Jodie's, the club we used to go to, we were known as a very strange double act. Me, the strange little indie kid in paisley shirts and Smiths T-Shirts, and Mark, the prettiest boy in the club who everyone wanted to do. But they couldn't, because he was too busy getting me and him off our heads on pills and trying to do me. But I resisted. And then I resisted some more. And, after a while, I started to feel like my resolve couldn't hold out forever and I would have to be his boyfriend or lose him.

And then fate intervened.

It was the weekend after my 18th birthday. We were there at Jodie's as usual, celebrating. Probably dancing to Jason Donovan when I felt someone rubbing up against me. This was Phil. he was 36, taller than me, with a beard and a beer belly. He told me he wanted to take me home and do bad things to me. He actually said "do bad things to you". I didn't let him, of course. But I did nosh him off in the bogs. And Mark knew I did. And never spoke to me again.

Which sort of broke my heart. But it did prove to me that I was a proper gay after all. And I took all the pictures off my bedroom wall and replaced them with my own paintings. And never looked back.

And now? Now my boyfriend is called Mark. And he looks absolutely nothing like Jason Donovan. So, try as he might, Jason was not able to ruin my life. Though he got repaid in spades for trying. He went on to sue The Face magazine for saying he was gay. The magazine went out of business as a result of it. But he ended up looking like a rampant and lunatic homophobe and everyone hated him after that.

And, in case you were wondering, I DO have a favourite Kylie song. It's Come Into My World. I think it's lovely.

Enjoy the silence.