Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Local Media Censorship

I mentioned about the Ashley Hedger murder in a post 2 weeks ago, because the trial for his murder is under way. The news appeared in the Newham Recorder that week, but was nowhere to be found on their website.

This week, the Newham Recorder features on Page 5, the jury verdict of the equally awful murder of Akeel Akabar . The story is online. Go to their website, and if you search on Akeel Akabar, you will find this story.

In comparison, on Page 3 of this week's paper, there is further news on Ashley Hedger's trial:... "Simon Korzed, 19, told the Old Bailey how he saw three Asian men attacking 16-year-old Barnardo boy Ashley Hedger during a frenzied assault..." This story is NOT online. Search on the Recorder website for Ashley Hedger, and it comes up blank with no stories.

There is some active censorship going on here. Probably under Party Political Influence. The question is, why should some people be allowed to choose what is to be censored? Under whose authority? And isn't it presumptious of them that they think they know what is best for the rest of the country?

And so many people are led to think that in Britain, they live in a Free Country with Free Speech and a Democratic way of Life? Well reality doesn't quite match up to the claim.

No wonder the "Far Right" get so angry.... This censorship only serves to make things worse.

Waste Not, Want Not or Back and Forth to China

Guardian :: The UK's new rubbish ump: China

I just came upon this story through Cybersatan and am utterly horrified. The economic explosion of manufacturing in China is known but not overly chronicled. The cheapness of products in the U.K., Europe and North America, has developed over the last 6 years because everything is now Made in China.

And people here just buy things new and throw the old thing away just because it might be SCRATCHED! And the rubbish then gets shipped all the way back to China. Which according to the BBC news last night, is now suffering from runaway pollution.

What the hell are the Communist Party in China doing?

Why do the Euro-American economies not force a regulatory system within their societies that implements the philosophy of "Waste Not, Want Not"?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

One Tel becomes Crap - Fire Centrica Bosses?

In case you didn't know, Centrica is the company that owns British Gas, and for a while now also has owned The AA and One.Tel.

Centrica : What we stand for : Our heritage : Index

Of course, British Gas is still under fire for being severely over-priced compared to other Gas Suppliers. I stopped using British Gas years ago. So blame Centrica. So blame Centrica's Chief Executive and Directors.

Well, after years as a customer, I can no longer recommend OneTel. They just double-charged me on my bill. To tell them, I phoned several numbers and got only machines with stupid options and no Customer Service. Finally, I found a sub-menu option that got me through to a "human being". I mean, this was a brainwashed de-humanised person in Scotland who is struggling to compete with rival callcentres in India.

After admitting their error to me on the phone, the best OneTel could do was to apply the correction to the bill after this one.

I said, but the direct debit doesn't go on for another 2 weeks??

No, can't change the current bill.

Well what about applying a separate credit to go on at the same time as the overbilled direct debit that will be happening in 2 weeks?

No, I have to wait a month beyond that to get my refund.

Well who can I complain to?

"Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry....Mr, Mr, Mr, Mr..."

So give me an address and the name of the person I can write to.

So I wrote a letter to Fional Chamberlain, Head of Customer Services at OneTel:

I have just had to try to contact OneTel over a billing error, and for the first time since becoming a customer over 3 years ago, I am considering leaving OneTel.

Your agents admitted that I have been double-charged for a service. They advised me that I would receive a credit on my next bill.

On my bill it says that my account will be debited on the 14 October. Today is the 28th September. Your agents advise me that the Overbilled amount of £13.99 will still be debited on the 14th October. They told me that the correcting credit will be applied on the next bill, namely one month later.

What use is this? How can I trust OneTel to apply Direct Debits to my bank account, if even when I have advised you of an error, you are UNABLE to make a correction to a direct debit which is not yet to happen until the 14th October?

I suggested that perhaps the correcting credit could be applied on the same date, but your agent said that this was not possible.

I expect a reply to this before the 7th October 2004.

I should point out that the entire experience of a customer trying to deal with OneTel, is that of dealing with Machines. The calls are answered by machines, with options which make it impossible to find what you are looking for. Even your call centre agents are trained to be perfunctory, impotent machines.

It didn’t used to be like this, and I will not be recommending OneTel to anybody until it changes. I won’t be recommending Centrica to anybody either.

And so, beware, but I think Centrica PLC might be getting sucked dry by FatCats.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Clearly Calm

Looks like "Sid" of Clearly Calm (on my blog roll) who blogs from Wormwood Scrubs prison has been found out and banned from continuing his blog.

Shame. It was a truly unique blog. So much for intellectual progress on the Internet.

Common People by Pulp

Common People Pulp Song Lyrics from Allspirit

I heard a new version of this on the radio the other day, and for once I actually got all the words. Unlike Jarvis' screechy danceable protest, this version was by an uncommon person with a very comprehensible voice, singing it as someone who wasn't a common person, who knew about trying to be one of the Common People.

Cut your hair and get a job
Smoke some fags and play some pool
Pretend you never went to school
But still you'll never get it right

Indeed. But you wonder whether Jarvis would prefer people who never tried to find out what it was like to be a common person. Which would he approve of less? Not that it matters now that HE is rich.

You'll never live like common people
You'll never do whatever common people do
You'll never fail like common people
You'll never watch your life slide out of view
and then dance and drink and screw
because there's nothing else to do

It really sounds like he doesn't think anyone should consider the life of the Common People. Or else that if you're born as one of them, you've got something that nobody else can fake.

And that is true, because the truly Common People have nothing left to lose. They have only one way to go, and that is UP.

Whereas if you were born rich, you have only one way to go, and that is DOWN.

It makes me want to get to know Fidel Castro.

'cos everybody hates a tourist
especially one who thinks
it's all such a laugh

Is this so true or what? Unless you're one of those who stands to earn money from them, a tourist is always a tourist. They can leave. You can be the better kind of tourist, whatever you go through in your life, being sensitive and understanding of what is around you. But if you can always leave, they know it. Unless you are stuck there, like them, you can never truly know what it is like to be them.

And when you finally do know, it will hurt for a very long time. And you'll Look Back in Anger.

Mother Nature's Big Luscious Raspberries


Overhead is an overcast sky hanging low. The equinox is past and light levels have fallen greatly. At latitude 52 degrees north, even when the sky is clear, the sun is now much lower and the shadows much longer. Plants can get more energy from one sunny mid-summer day than they do from three of these days. Temperatures don't determine how much food reserves they can build. Gusty windy days have been blowing and the certain misery of another British winter lies ahead.

Getting the garden ready for its windy soggy grey frosty sleep, I spy from my little eye: Red, bulbous raspberries. The last summer fruit in a climate where if you were left to the elements, you might not live to see another spring.

After the first flush of raspberries was gone, this cane came springing up from the ground in July. With the wetness of this year's August, it flowered and set fruit bigger and juicier than the earlier berries.

My bright moment in a day forced to listen to the high-pitched whining from the fan of my neighbour's central-heating boiler.

A grey squirrel has for the last week come regularly to feed on the hazelnuts. Red squirrels are already driven to extinction in most parts of England, and I don't know if there is any point any more to trying to control the grey squirrels. The red squirrel is a different species to the introduced grey squirrel. Its method of demise included the bastardy of the grey squirrels physically "raping" the female red squirrels, thus disabling them from reproducing since they are genetically incompatible.

Strangely enough, in Canada, there are just as many black squirrels as grey squirrels, but in England, I have never seen a black squirrel.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Skinny Glutton ** Hidden Lea Valley near Stratford

I have spent my life being extremely bored by people who complain about "getting fat" and "not being able to lose weight". Quite the opposite, I have mostly lived to eat, and despite every effort, have never been able to get fat.

Where does it go? Who cares? All I know is that I often overeat and then lie around in a torpid state for hours and hours. An even worse habit is falling asleep soon after eating a heavy dinner, and then waking up 2 hours later feeling depressed and awful, and then stalking night hours until I get sleepy again at 2 or 3 am.

Well lately this napping thing has been killing my will to live and I haven't been able to shake it off. My daily cycle has on and off for several months being split into two waking periods.

So yesterday I tried a new regime. Eating my main meal at midday, and then a light meal/snack in the evening.

And today already the effect has been marvellous. No disorientations, doziness, or depression during the daytime. And I haven't wanted a nap all day.


Yesterday evening I started changing the front tire on my bike so that the tires would match. After taking it off, I found that the rubber rim strip had perished. This is the rubber strip that protects the inner tube from the sharp edges of the spoke nuts inside the wheel rim.

So this morning I cut out a replacement rubber strip from one of the discarded tires. Then I stripped the black rubber from the two ends, leaving the fabric base on each, and then tried sticking the ends together with Evo-Stik. The glue didn't hold, so I sewed the two ends together. Then I drilled a hole where the valve for the inner tube had to poke through the rim. The whole thing worked beautifully and stretched perfectly over the rim. I fitted the tire, the tube , and the wheel back together in no time after that.

My bike, my bike, my bike, I am so glad you're back again. You ride faster with the new slimmer tires, but not as comfortably on rough roads. But you're back for me, me, me. They can have their 4x4's. They can have their convertible BMW's. They can have their £1600 top of the line bicycles. They can have their 1200cc all-the-fairing booming motorcycles. And they'll have it until the future takes it away from them. But for me, you're my bike, and if they should laugh at you, then just think how they might lie on their deathbed one day, and like my cancer-dying dad, be unable to remember how they ever laughed at anything.


Yesteday was Tuesday and I went back to London Fields Cycles to exchange the inner tube with the Schrader valve. They had Shwalbe's inner tubes with Presta valves, which are in a red packaging as opposed to the blue packages for the Schrader valves.

He handed me the 26" size, and I mentioned how strange it was that the 26" size they had given me was so much shorter than the old tube out of the bike. Blah, blah, they all stretch, he said. So I looked at the box and Whaay-HEY the ISO tire sizes were listed for which the tube was suitable. The package says 26", but the ISO size it catered for only went up to 559mm. So I asked him for the next size up, and he had one with the Schrader valve that listed the ISO size of 584mm.

So even with inner tubes, never ever accept inch sizes. Always look for the ISO size.


On my way there I cycled along the hidden waterways of the industrial section of the lower Lea Valley. This is the part that lies between Stratford and Hackney, some of which will be used for the Olympics if London gets here.

I was amazed at how rustic some of these waterways are. You can't see them when you drive past on the roads, because they are hidden by warehouses and ex-factories. Old Ford lock on the Lee Navigation canal, is nearly beautiful as you look north towards it, and the wide open water passage beyond it. (You see signs for Old Ford when you drive up and down the ugly Blackwall tunnel approach road, and you would never believe that it referred to ANY beautyspot).

The prime waterside land is earmarked for yet more upmarket flats. Several warehouses have been abandoned over the past year and await demolition. There already is a very shi-shi block of apartments, already occupied. This appears to have been built by who are already building another 3 or 4 blocks on adjacent sites. More homes for tacky overpaid Canary Wharf Moneysucking types.

Rustically historic London is nearly all gone now. This might well be the last part. Catch it if you can, go for a walk along the waterside. Here's the best spot on Marshgate Lane from which to join the paths.


My annoying neighbours amaze me. Their central heating has come on since the 3rd week of August. Their boiler's fan is so noisy that I can hear its grating whirring from almost anywhere in my house. How they can afford the energy bill I have no idea. I can't even think of putting the heat on for another 3 weeks at least. Not to mention that their lack of appreciation of Energy Conservation for environmental reasons drives my soul to the point of despair. Who will teach them, and will they want to learn, when being from Ethiopia, they seem more interested in catching home news broadcasts on World radio?

But today I finally figured out what was that awful smell that I have caught emanating from their house. Their windows were flying wide open, and the sickly cloying sweet smell of some horrid scent was blasting over the entire neighbourhood. I think it must be incense! I was incensed, all right!

Why incense, I wondered? I would not have expected it of Ethiopians. But maybe it is the Arabic influence? Whatever.... It's a painful example of how multiculturalism can literally stink. I wish some air-headed politics or social sciences professor could have this as one of their next-door-neighbour smells.

How can you get fight back against these horrible smells without totally alienating your neighbours for perpetuity? Dale Carnegie knows, or so he claimed. Fuck it, I'd rather stink back. Stink with all my stinking might. With my own fabulous kind of stink. Something straight out of a (social engineering) stink tank.


Hetero week has definitely faded completely.

Let's go to the council library at Stratford. A modern building designed with a slightly funky and cool interior. Built as part of a complex at the same time as the Safeway's (now Morrison's) and the Sofitel that flank it. This was the site of the old Newham Finance Department's concrete 70's pyramid.

Arriving at the desk to return my book, I look up to see a very handsome man. Who seems quite keen to charm me. Shame I find it impossible to just go on looks these days.

I mention that I noticed that "There is now a collection of Lithuanian books in the library".

To which he responds with brainwashed mantra as though it has been forced upon him by peer employees. Is he Buddhist? Probably. Very cute, yes, and enough to be Love material. But I'm already sceptical about his self-possession and his Intelligence-Fire. Why else would a gorgeous gay man be doing a wimpy job as a Library Assistant?

Shit, some people don't deserve what they got. If I had his body and his looks, I'd be flying RAF helicopters or engineering bridges that span the English Channel.

Then a mechanic pulls up outside my house to fix a neighbour's car. GASP! Gorgeous! You can walk around Newham for hours and want to slash your wrists for lack of men-worth-looking-at. And then a MAN in a tow truck comes to your front door.

The gay hormones are back. Gorgeous women in my vicinity need no longer wonder if they must have mercy on my heterosexual virginity.

It's not confusing, after you blog about it. It becomes just a hormone thing.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Bicycle Maintenance in London

This weekend saw me despairing over getting my bicycle going again. Why? Well I took off the rear wheel with the flat tyre and my local shop Cycle Asylum explained how older bike tyre sizes were extremely non-standard. So mine is a 1990 Peugeot Tradition and apparently used a so-called 650B French tyre size which is now obsolete. The inference was that if I couldn't find these tyres, it was not worth trying to replace the entire wheel with the nearest matching modern standard size. In other words, I should buy a new bike. The Sheldon Brown website suggested this was all true. Note that people should quote an ISO tyre size like 35-584, instead of the totally confused system of say, 26 x1.75 (which often refer to two or more different actual sizes)

I was bawling my eyes out. One straw too many on top of feeling like a failure on the jobhunting front, and the stress of waiting for the results from the health check I had on Thursday. A French bike, using a French tyre size that was doomed. I could find nothing much on the web about what happened to Peugeot bicycles (they were sold in 1992 to Cycleurope, who has other brands like Bianchi, so soon ditched the Peugeot Cycles marque). I remember when I first bought this bike and just wanted to stare at it because it was so beautiful to me. More importantly, over the last 3 years this bike has carried me almost unfailingly. I was willing to throw money at it and do anything to keep it alive. When I think about it, everything and everybody else has in some way let me down in my mid-life menopausal breakdown of recent years, but THAT bicycle was always there for ME.

Daycock's which used to be in East Ham, where I first bought the bike, had closed many of their branches and is now called D2. I phoned them and they knew about these tire sizes, and believed they might have some of these tires left somewhere in their warehouse, if they could find them! They suggested I ring back in a week when their warehouseman came back from holiday.

I started ringing round the other bike shops. S&S in Forest Gate, never even heard of these tires (I noticed on a previous visit that they are a bunch of lads' lads of the Ignorant Laughter generation). Various others also had never heard of the 650B tire size. Evans Cycles at Waterloo said they had them.

On Sunday, I was at Evans Cycles, and I almost bought a pair of tires from them, but they were 650A tires, not 650B. Of course, the earnest middle-class adolescent in the shop did not know the difference until I asked him to find out. Upon which he agreed that it really wouldn't do.

On Monday, after talking to some more Ignorant Bike Shops That Only Sell Mountain Bikes, I finally found London Fields Cycles in Hackney, which knew exactly what I was looking for, and said they had some of these tires. Lo and behold, I turn up there, and I find more bike mechanics than sales staff. A good and proper bike shop, just as they claimed they were. They seem very big in Hackney, where the green brigade are very big on bicycles. The tires I bought were exactly the type that Sheldon Brown U.S. Prices says they keep as new Old Stock, selling at $40.00 each. The Michelin World Tour 35-584 (650 x 35B - 26 x 11/2) at £8.00 each? I will be calling these tire sizes 35-584 from now on, which is the ISO tire size designation for the 650B.

Do I love London Fields Cycles or not? Plug, plug, plug. I also picked up a spoke spanner to true up my rear wheel and an inner tube.

So I took them home to fit myself, since their mechanics were booked up for the rest of the day. Shame I didn't think about the tube valves. The Schwalbe tube he sold me, has Schrader valves, which don't fit into a Presta valve hole. And there is no point having two different types of valve on the same bike, is there? So I took the old inner tube, and patched it with an ancient cycle patching kit from my dungeon of things I've never thrown away. There were two holes, so it must have been a "pinch flat", from low tyre pressures. Although the old tyres were well past the end of their life. I fitted the old tube and new tire, and everything has held together. The new tyre is slimmer than the old ones, which must have a balloon-tyre, maybe a 40-584. That should be a good thing: a little less comfort, but better speed and better handling around corners. First time done, and it worked. If first tries worked out more often, then life wouldn't be so damn discouraging.

So my bike lives. *Touching wood*. Maybe I should give it a kiss. It's the only love in this city that is worth having in the current state of the world.


(Edited Version)

  1. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings."
  2. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
  3. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.
  4. You should not confuse your career with your life.
  5. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
  6. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.
  7. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.
  8. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.
  9. A person, who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)
  10. Your friends love you anyway.
  11. Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.
  12. Final thought for the day: Men are like fine wine.. They start out as grapes, and it's up to the women to stomp the crap out of them until they turn into something acceptable to have dinner with.>

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Captain and the Enterprise

Star Trek captain wins battle with council over houseboats (Evening Standard)

So Patrick Stewart lives in Bermondsey. Jean Luc Picard searched the Thames for a place to live all the way between Canary Wharf and Vauxhall, but found most of it to be "sterile and lacking any life".

Shame he is the only one who has noticed London's heart is sterile and lacking any life. Maybe he is the only one who isn't getting paid off by Developers (all politicians are suspects).

This morning's involved dream:
I am in a mixed party of strangers invited for a weekend at a large updated country manor house. There is a Penelope Keith bossing type, and a few snooting butlers. And tables laden with delicious food. When it comes to ordering drinks,for some reason I must be in a couple, and I team up with
Patrick Stewart. I have one drink and he has two. After the meal while taking a digestive wander through the rooms with the other guests, I am presented with the Bar bill. Patrick Stewart is nowhere to be seen, but apparently he has written on the bill "Add 50%" (as a tip), to take the total to £104, and then sent the bill on to me. Angry at having a rip-off bill dumped on me, I wonder how I can pay it. I stay for a breakfast whose tables are laden with the most scrumptious cakes (or gateaux as they say in England, for cakes here mean junk). Still Patrick is nowhere to be found, and so I am intending to leave without paying the bill.

Imagine waking up with Patrick Stewart. I have only seen the trailers for his film, "Jeffery", so I can imagine it more freely. From the kitchen, casting his voice to the boudoir with the same strength as to a 1000-seat auditorium:


It must be hell being a celebrity. And needing a boyfriend. It must be hell for the boyfriend. Living in the shadow of someone so totally successful. Feeling the endless competition coming from younger, more entertaining, cleverer, better-looking, sexier, fitter men. Wherever you go.

I'll carry on captaining my own Enterprise. This celebrity stuff is for twinks. Twinks are fodder. You can be fodder, or you can compete for the fodder, or you can stand on the sidelines and watch all the foddering nonsense. Fod it all.

Flat Tire

She is so beautiful. Hetero week fades away at last, and yet she is so beautiful. A woman. One so beautiful that thoughts of dying or killing for her flow easily to your soul. And she knows she has this effect on some men and women, and she sees it instantly in their eyes, and steers away.

It is as much a burden to be beautiful as it is to be ugly. For to be average is all that society caters to. One day she will be old and no one will look at her. She knows this, but those who desire her do not. Such is the depth of desire in man, that even I, only a gay man, am overwhelmed by her beauty as a woman.

Thank God hetero week fades away. Her burden is great, and I shall not add to it any more.

My bike tire went flat suddenly. At last, after 12 years. What better time than when I am slouching along at 8 miles an hour. Thank God I wasn't zipping down Westerham Hill at 35 mph. Thank my lucky stars.

Contrast is relief.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Getting into the Part, into the Mind of the Role

::And I've been doing this "strange" thing, and I've been doing that "strange" thing.

::It's almost as though I'm an actor getting mentally prepared for a new role.

So that's what I've been doing? For so long? And not being aware of it until now? A role that seems so big and challenging that donning the costume was never going to be enough?

And into the shoes and stomach and eyes and loins and hands and selfish pleasures of the character.

The costume was never going to be enough. But how does the actor know when he has grasped the essence of the role he must assume? When are you ready?

This is what they call character study, isn't it? I haven't been systematically studying the character and therefore cannot be ready. And I don't want any surprises this time. But why? Some actors say they learn more and more about the character every time they play the role. You can never learn it all before you play it.

Surprises will happen and that's what I must learn to expect. When they happen, I must recognize them as such. I know I'm not clever enough to understand them, figure out the best solution and
assimilate them into history all in the space of two blinks. So what can I do? Put them on Hold, definitely. Accompany this with a Pretence to Ignore, a Masquerade, or a Stock Delaying
Tactic. Or if somebody else is around who is cleverer, I could also pass the buck and be a watchful supporter.

So I can do more character study, and I can handle surprises. But is this role worth playing? Why do I want so much to play it? A part that has taken so much, and returned so little, so far. For we who have only the world as a stage, indulge ourselves more selfishly than they who are paid by the hour to play someone else's script.

I know that I have not the gift that natural born actors have, whereupon their entire souls and beings can instantaneously flow into the heart and mind of another. But I also know that I am not so impoverished that even under the pain of death I am blinded and ignorant of how it must be to be like another person.

And so this quality, this Actor's Gift, is something I possess in only average quantity. And thus it offers me more challenge than the other (but few) gifts I do have. Like someone who still wants to play football on a Sunday and score, even though they know they will never play professionally.

So maybe there is a solid reason to only play on a Sunday.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Ashley Hedger East London

News history:

Back in January a nasty murder happened here in Upton Park, in Newham, East London, that is nearly as tragic as the Stephen Lawrence murder. The story was predictably drowned by Lefties who were afraid of Righties. Consequently, the Middle Moderates outside East London never seemed to get the story.

The court details of the incident are now public record and reported on the front page of this week's Newham Recorder. The article isn't online yet. The trial continues.

Do a search for Ashley Hedger's murder, and you will be amazed how silent the media have been about it. This is dangerous media censorship. If the vast majority of people in the country who are Middle Moderates, are denied a story like this, is it so surprising that the so-called far Right feel it is their duty to spread the word? Interestingly, even the original Newham Recorder archived articles have been silenced on the Internet.

The worst thing about this tragedy is that it resulted from an uneasiness that exists here in Newham, between different groups of people who have been left to sink into ghetto mentalities. Why is this so different from other parts of London? It isn't that different, because everybody in London lives in a daydream of their own which is very much a ghetto. The degree to which people practice this insularity, is variable. When it results in a murder, it's gone way too far, and as a Londoner, a tragedy that was waiting to happen now hangs around your neck like an albatross. In East London, where nearly everybody came from immigrant stock, we know we can do better than this. And we shouldn't any more allow trite political dinosaurs from any wing of the national political spectrum, to suffocate social progress. No more tragedies are allowed. It's time to shout.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Is Dad on the final leg of Dying

My brother tells me that Dad has an infection, and the doctor has also suggested that further blood transfusions would be pointless. He has continued withering away and is skeletal. It should be three weeks to the end now, so that's gone and fucked up things for me again.


The world of the Jobcentre

Well, since I started jobhunting again, I thought I might as well go through the formalities of the Government's system. So a visit to the Jobcentre.

For those of you who are up with the times, there is an amusing new addition to the process there. They give you a page showing a typical job advertisement. Then on the subsequent two pages, you are asked, IN VERY BIG LETTERS to answer some simple questions based on this job advertisement. It serves as a basic literacy and numeracy test.

For those of you who aren't up with the times, unless you go through the modern process, reading about it in the Guardian is about as experiential as looking at a porn magazine. There must be so many people in the Ben Elton Generation who have an image of Unemployment Benefit that they gleaned in the Eighties. As my mate Richie, who being young was forced to know about these things first hand, said back in 1996: There's no point applying for Unemployment Benefit - unless you go for Income Support, you won't get anything.

Ho, ho, ho! He was right, and that still hasn't changed. But there has been no such thing as Unemployment Benefit for the last 6 years. It's Contribution-based Job Seeker's Allowance. And no such thing as Income Support either. It's called Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance.

Well, it was nice of them to tell me that I probably don't qualify for Contribution-based Job Seeker's Allowance. And it was really honest of me to tell them that I probably wouldn't qualify for Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance (she looked at me as though I was insane, and suddenly held me in enormous respect). And it was interesting to know that even if you aren't eligible for the contribution-based Job Seeker's Allowance, you can still be registered unemployed for the purpose of receiving the National Insurance credits: a non-cash value of about £3 a week, and the unfathomable pleasure of knowing that you are upsetting the eight-year-old Labour Government's cynically manipulated employment statistics.

Yessirree, Britain's Social Welfare system is of greatest benefit to those who are already in the system, and playing it. I keep thinking of my next door neighbours, who although they were housed from the Homeless List in March, somehow keep a very nice 2003 Vauxhall hatchback, and never seem to do anything that looks like jobhunting or having a job. The moves against Benefit Fraud only target Jack-the-Lads who are in the Benefit system WHILE they supplement it with cash-in-hand work.

If you're an honest person experiencing mid-life employment difficulties, you're best off blowing all your savings on holidays, drugs, sports cars, champagne, and a wife who bears as many children as possible. Even then, it's unlikely that you'll do as well as my next door neighbours unless you have a Special Interest group whose umbrella covers you.

Rant, rant, rant! Most of the people who work in the Job Centre seem just as pissed off with the inequities of the system that they are forced to perpetuate. Down in East Ham, 50% of the applicants seem to barely speak English. They are incomprehensible, barely employable, but the officers have to process them with due diligence. It probably is a massive advantage to be non-English speaking in order to qualify for the Benefits system. Maybe the whole country should forget how to speak English so that they can be on a level playing field.

And what about jobhunting in the Internet age? It's more impersonal than in the factory nightmare days of the movie "Metropolis". The job adviser lady agreed it's more impersonal, and said that most people seem to just accept it as the way things are done, (or in the case of young people, how it was ALWAYS done). Is it any wonder that throughout history Christian churches have used teachings populated with Flocks of Sheep, Lambs, and Shepherds?

Sheep. One solitary species in the spectrum of the Animal Kingdom. Used to define the whole human race. And probably very deservedly.

Hetero Week Continues

Sedated by a midnight KFC and then a bowl of noodles, I feel able to write within the boundaries of blog acceptability.

Hetero week continues. Stopped in Ilford outside the Boots, my jaw dropped at the sight of a truly stunning young woman, in the chaperone company of probably her mother. Boots, mini skirt, beauty, a body to kill for, and none of that common Millenium Slut stuff.

And then, as I wasted the evening at my gay haunt in South London, the concept of sex with men was not ridiculous, or even pointless, but in fact as contemptible as a meal at cDonalds. I ended up chatting the two hours away with Leo the Bouncer from Cameroon. I had forgotten that I had chatted with him before. Having worked in that environment for 5 years, he empathised that he can't even be bothered with sex: it's mostly a turnoff for him.

Feeling pumped up and more hetero than I have done in the last year, I nearly had a fight with an asshole at the bar. But as a gay man, civility prevailed as well as the duty to keep my Bouncer friend's life easy, so I moved to the sidelines for ten minutes until Asshole left the bar.

Then it started pissing down with rain as I cycled home. I think it peaked my aggressive feelings to a point that I have not experienced since working in my gardening job last year. I wonder if when I'm feeling hetero, it's equivalent to when someone straight is feeling "gay". For a while I could see how a man could be trapped in this mental state for a lifetime, and with a lack of satisfactorily attractive women about, have to console himself with page 3 of The Sun. There certainly aren't enough good looking women around (oooPS! editor says, in the interests of World Peace, readers should be reminded that Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder).

Whatever... Mention to a gay friend that you've had some odd hetero urges, and you get recoiling "OOHs" and "AAAHs". It just horrifies them. The truly bisexual man, whom I could never claim to be, is the most maligned type of man in society. Everybody, straight or gay, men or women, wants to see someone who is Gay or Straight, but not both, and definitely not chopping and changing all the time. (oh dear, the chopping and changing bit is NO pun reference to transexual modification!).

OOH (recoil)! AAAH (recoil)!. KFC has done me. And if it ever will fail, there's always Page 3.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Tendons, Tendon Training, Tendon Fitness

With unflagging consistency, the most Google-searched item on this Blog of mine, is curiously Tendonosis

So how many others are out there, who having had no athletic gifts in childhood, never had to learn how to use their bodies? How many of these are now discovering the workings of their body by virtue of pains that seem to never go away? Pains that occur because of the ageing body's decreased ability to heal, re-grow things, and cover up damage?

Some of the shoulder tendons that first screamed at my brain have taken years to recover but are only back to 80% of how I remember them. And it occurred to me that nobody ever talks about exercising their tendons. Every unimaginative sheep on this planet wants toned muscles, strong muscles, big muscles, defined muscles or tireless muscles. What are muscles attached to? Bones. What connects a muscle to a bone? Tendons.

What use are good muscles if your tendons are crap? People understand Achilles tendons because they hear about it on TV , but forget that for every muscle in their body, there are at least two or more tendons.

Here's Ligament and Tendon Structure and Function which explains tendons and was recommended in Tendon Training (itself showing that weight trainers think about tendons).

The point is: when are general fitness types and not just body-builders going to include tendon awareness into their ha-ha la-dee-da chit-chat about Staying Fit?

Ageing would be so much easier if the 99% of the population that pretends it isn't there, started understanding its processes and living accordingly.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Chris Martin Day

And waking with the clock radio, while I was still in a DIY superstore picking up cans of paint, "Yellow" played on XFM, and I screamed, ".. but Chris Martin IS A GOD!". When the dream was cut and the day coalesced around me, I declared that this would be Chris Martin Day.

I used to loathe being single, but now I'm sad to say I'm learning to be selfish (30th April)

And why else is a blog there unless it is to remind you of a time past. Unless you use it only as a pastime.

Scarcely 10 days to the equinox, and no one could still be fooling themselves into thinking that summer never dies. The lusty heat of summer was contradictory to Coldplay, and lo with its passing, the lord of English winter music surges forth like some deciduous tree's hormone! Suck the energy out of your leaves! Cast them off! Pull it all back into your roots! Cast off any limbs and branches that should waste your winter reserves. Winter is coming, and you will soon wonder if you ever see Summer again.

This year sees almost no acorns at all on the Oak trees on the Wanstead Flats. If boars still roamed free on this England they would go hungry this winter. The oaks have dropped only galls, useless, contorted galls. I wonder if it was the dry weather in late spring/early summer that caused this.

By contrast, the hawthorns are heavy with haws, which by the way are edible and are a common ingredient in some Chinese soup concoctions. And of course my hazels have given birth copiously. Shame there are none that grow wild on the Flats, for they would make useful food for the small mammals in these times of no acorns. It is peculiar that I seem to be the only person in this part of London who grows hazel, but so trite is the behaviour of gardeners, that they only follow fashion and not their own curiousity. You would think that more people would have seen cobnuts for sale at the greengrocers, as they are every year at this time, and asked themselves, "Where do cobnuts come from?". Cobnuts are just hazelnuts selected for the English climate. Buy some, stick them in a plant pot now, and hey presto, next spring you have some shrubs. In five years, you might start seeing some nuts. You don't have to wait until Monty Don flashes his BIG HANDS or Charlie Dimmock shakes her BIG BOSOM while they say, "OH! Let's all plant some cobnuts today, boys and girls!"


I was whizzing through Moorgate when I noticed that they have ripped up the entire Island of Greenery that sat in the main traffic intersection. Leaving only the crappy 40 something year old oak tree, just so that they could re arrange the road. More concrete. London so pisses me off. To think that at this time exactly a year ago I was working on that very green space, watering it to keep it all alive in what was a scorching month of drought. And what a joke that the contractors for the City of London, for whom I worked, were known as Waterers Landscapes. Of whom I think no more highly than any of the other money-grubbing megacorporations that now control all the local authority parks and gardens contracts up and down the land. Indeed, their website reminds me that they were then already in the throes of takeover by (Danish?) ISS.

Every park and garden in the country is now managed with very nearly the same ruthless monotony as a McDonald's or PizzaHut. I was reminded this today at West Ham Park, which also comes under the City of London's control. Managed for tidiness and crispness because it is cheaper to do so than to manage it for natural biodiversity. And astonishingly, a sign that says, "NO CYCLES". I took this to mean "No Cycling", but was then told that I wasn't even allowed to walk my bicycle around the park. And this is a big park, not a little prissy garden.

God help the kids nowadays who dream of wilderness and escape. They probably have to plug into the Internet or a computer games console and allow their spirit to be contained and even deadened. Mark Twain must be crying in his grave.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Waking to Free Will

When Slumber begins to break
And Consciousness dawns in the gaps
I am here and I am not here.
I am me and I am not me.

But why is there no one there?
When last was there someone?
Not since infancy.
To be watched over as you sleep
Is a waste of the watcher's time.
To be watched over as you wake,
Is the finest gift you could get.
Yet only the hospitalized in critical states,
Eke this gift from their loving ones.

Consciousness dawns in confusion.
I am here and I am not here.
Then where have I been
And where should I be?
Thoughts of places seem to spring no desire.
I have been there and I have been there.
My will is free and this becomes me.
The much that needs money,
The less that is free,
Free will is all relative
To watch over me.

They can teach you a Father
or the possibility of Three.
To watch over you.
Peoples have dreamed Pantheons
To watch their awakenings

I need to dream me.
To watch over me.


Cycled into Vauxhall to check out Sweat, which turned out only to be a new club night in the left hand arch of The Hoist. GRRRR! Sooo BORRRINGGG! Even with free entry before 11, I feel cheated and irritable from having been there. A few old familiar faces. A few young and listless ones. A venue that with its wine bar format is unimaginative. Music that was unfittingly camp, and staff that have personalities so mediocre that their beautiful bodies are wasted on them.

I'd be better off having had a drink at my nearest Wetherspoon's. The people are more interesting.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Angel or Animal

Angel or Animal? Why both, of course, all at once!

Biked to the Angel. There was a new bouncer, West Indian, who evidently likes to engage in play-quarrels. But he was very sexy, so I noticed as the evening progressed.

And it did so with one drink after another. My liver was in exceptional form to cope with my intake.

Even sexier was the lesbian bartender. As a gay man, it is rare for me to see a woman and think, "Wow, I'd love to get into bed with her". So rare that it happens to me no more than twice a year.

She was cute! Shortish hair, dark blond, beautiful open face, about 5'5", and what a body! The strap thing that she wore up top made her breasts a tempting delight. And what a bundle of dancing energy. I think she is the first ever woman on whom I have imagined cunnilingus.

The lesbians were out in force and for some reason were interacting with me a lot. They took a fancy to my workman's Hi-viz vest that I once laboured in, but now use on my bike. I was holding it in my hand to avoid attention, yet twice it was grabbed, donned and modelled for mad dancing. Maybe they fetishize it as I once did? Whatever.. One particularly friendly one was trying to matchmake her young male friend with me. Shame I was more interested in my booze and the lesbian bartender, because in retrospect he was rather tasty. I did take a cigarette that he offered me later on, but so curmudgeonly that I must have been thought cold.

But ugh and sexual revulsion on the Trotskyite bespectacled Leftie council-working Guardian-reading queen that came up to me before I had the annealing effect of my first drink, and unctuously asked me, pointing at my vest, whether I had come straight from work? And then actually squeezed my upper arm when I shook my head surly. I actually shuddered as though I had been raped by Jabba the Hut. Why do these dime-a-dozen card-carrying politics graduates think that they have special rights over someone ethnic? Just because they believe that they are more open-minded than other people? Give me a break, I am sick of them. As I was with the fifty-something bearded professor type that twice tried to chat me up. Sorry, but I've been fighting your type off since I was 21. And god knows that when I reach fifty-something, you'd still be chasing people that you perceive as young and vulnerable and innocent.

Oh well, let them go dig a hole for themselves. I still have to get out of my own hole. And actually, if I allow myself a little hope, I have had some little encouragements this week. Hope against holes!

The morning after a good night's drinking, no hangover but a smile in your head. This is why people drink. Thank god it works on me sometimes.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Sunday Contentment

Just returned from the Classical Concert night at Newham's "Under The Stars" Festival in East Ham Central Park. Sitting on the grass with C, right in the front having one or two beers. Behind were rows and rows of chairs and tables. Little children were running around ignoring the music.

The stage was rather grand, for an East Ham event. It took a full orchestra, and had a giant display screen with details showing from at least 4 cameras. This with the seating in a fenced enclosure, and a lot of security staff about. Even two bicycle police pedalled past us at one point, in front of the stage.

It was great fun. The fireworks display right at the end was accompanied by the 1812 overture, but it was remarkably well timed and designed to suit the piece. One particular visual effect I hadn't seen before was a blanketing wall of gold fire spreading upwards about one quarter as high as the big starbursts.

There was a soprano soloist, Phoebe Hill apparently, who was wearing a lovely full length dress with a full skirt, and doing a marvellous job on her songs. I really liked the dress, which was straw-coloured. I do wish more women would wear dresses. It is such a relief on the eyes to see a woman in a skirt that can be twirled. I think the days are over for women to wear jeans as fashion. Jeans may be practical and necessary sometimes, but they are so common on a woman that they are visually boring.

C and I both think it is unfair that the Conductor gets all the credit for the work, when there are so many musicians who have rehearsed over and over again, and have their manuscripts in front of them, It would seem they could carry on and finish the concert by themselves should the conductor ever collapse in mid-performance.

Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham, took the stage to do his little welcome speech. He has a very strong Scottish accent, though where it is from I haven't a clue. We were reminded that the concert was Free, and yes, it is so nice to get something from one's Council Tax. (I've been trying for 3 weeks with the Environment Department's Street Hotline to get our street swept. The Cleaning Dept, or the Contractors claim that it has been done. But it has not. Apparently I have to launch an official complaint now.)

But the day was already grand. It was shirts-off warm and sunny all day, and flustered at having no plans, I nonetheless knew that I must jump on my bike and find something. I drifted south through Beckton and then veered left to Gallions Reach, saw the new Shopping Centre (I am beginning to think that Newham now has got more retail space per capita than any other London Borough). But then I headed down to the River and followed the path to Gallions Reach Marina. I climbed down a ladder onto a rough patch of ground to stare at the icky mud below that was exposed by the low tide. The Marina mouth has a lock, behind which are some nice launches, and one of the vast bodies of water of the Royal Docks. I took a side road signed for access to the Tereza Joanne. The still abandoned ground by the docks was a pleasure to patrol. It is so nice these days to be able to find some large abandoned ground in London. Such a relief. So much has been tidied up, built upon, turned into a facility. There is something about making forays into a bit of empty disused land which satisfies the need for adventure in the soul. The feeling of discovery of something new is mixed with the challenge of navigating it. Most embracingly, there is an illusion of being the first to lay claim to it, and being the only one to own it.

Thus I was already a contented man, when I happened upon the apple tree that was growing "wild" on a bank overlooking the road off the dock side. I saw the largest "red" apples I have ever seen upon a tree in England. The kind of apples that I like to eat, which I cannot find to buy, in Supermarkets or greengrocers, for love nor money nor sex. Many had already fallen to waste, but I ate one and picked another 6. I took two cuttings in the hope that they might propagate. Who cares if I'm getting old and I might move and never see them bear. I love growing plants and trees, and I shouldn't deny myself the pleasure for fear of missing out on their maturity. If I should see their birth, then should I be glad enough.

But my contentment found more food. I went into North Woolwich and savoured the tiny little remnant of rough East End living standards that is now swamped by wave after wave of large surrounding recent developments. Rough. It is now becoming so rare in the historical parts of Newham that it almost seems time to slap Heritage Listings onto the mock deprivation that remains of East End culture.

Then I took the Woolwich Foot tunnel under the river, and was thankful that the lifts were operating on both sides. This comes out at the Leisure Centre next to the Woolwich Ferry. Much to my delight, I found the Thames Path and Cycleway, which I had heard about, never visited, but completely forgotten.

The Thames Cycle path on the south side of the river east of Woolwich is a cyclists dream. Running right along the river, it is entirely unobstructed, and extend for miles, apparently to Erith. For myself I was enough grateful to encounter the section of the riverside which is undeveloped, green, and natural. There aren't many places in East London where you can mosey along the Thames' riverbanks, in the shade of Wild Mother Nature. So much of the river side has been given over to luxury apartment buildings.

I passed 3 queens having a full-on picnic with wine glasses and dinner plates, on the grassy swards in front of the Royal Arsenal. On my way back they were still there. I went into the Royal Arsenal complex and was amazed to see Listed Buildings whose existence I did not know of. The iron gates of the Shell Foundry took my breath away, perhaps because they stood in majestic colourful proportion to the brick facade. It is now used as the marketing suite for the main Berkeley Homes development by the riverbank.

Onward into Woolwich, and the probably the most perfect yet humble Wetherspoon pub I have seen. The windows open widely so that there is a connection with the street, and the small garden across the road. The weather in London isn't often good enough for this, but I had found this pub at the height of its season. A lager shandy to slake the thirst, and it just peaked a day that was making life worth living.

Such a contrast with Saturday, whence I rotted so badly that I shut the curtains mid-afternoon and aimed for the booze. This despite the weather. Perhaps I was worn out from my cycle ride on Friday, which had also been blue sky and hot. I was disappointed with the Colleges in Stratford and Tottenham I had talked to, and depressed by the domination of Soho by mediocre tourists. Although I did sit in Trafalgar square with my beer and for once looked at Nelson properly, sitting on his column, against the most deliciously coloured sky with wafty puffs of sunset-coloured sky. It was as though someone in the National Gallery behind me, had taken one of their Renaissance cityscape paintings off the wall and hung it behind Nelson's column.

Perhaps I was fed up with Internet people on Friday night. I think I was. The Internet presents limitations for its users which exacerbate the natural limitations of those users. It might be time to give up on the Internet and go onto the next stage of Living Again.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Wheelie Bin Surprise * September Starts

On Monday I looked into my wheelie bin before throwing rubbish into it. I found that 20 letters had been dumped into it, in nice white envelopes, with franked postage. They were addressed from one solicitor's firm, to their various clients about London, with the correspondence dated in late July. I got in touch with the firm, and they very gratefully collected the post from me. Their clients had been complaining of not receiving the cheques in the envelopes. They suspected a disgruntled employee, but were grateful for my discovery so gave me a reward to drink in my leisure time.

Keep your eyes open, and maybe you too will see things that you wouldn't believe if you read about them.


Is this trainspotting for anoraks or what? The Transport Ticket Society ABOUT THE SOCIETY


September opened up with sunshine and clear skies, but cool to the touch. Night sets in by 8.15 pm, and the rate of change of daylight length is speeding up quickly. August was such a wet month, that this year we feel a bit cheated out of summer.

Looking for a job now, and unable to resist the natural urge to get pent up during the process. I find it incredible when I meet people who have spent 20 years in the same job, and have never been to more than half a dozen interviews in their life. What sods. No wonder they're so damn complacent and they can afford to dwell in their cocoon of unreality.

One such friend who is a Supermarket manager, understands job hunting to mean that "you walk into a shop, and if you look nice, the manager will give you an application form, so you can complete it and have a chat there and then". Hmmm.. And the same person truly doesn't question his ability to empathise or understand people from other walks of life - he just glosses over them pleasantly and smilingly shuts out what he doesn't have any first hand experience of.

Oh well, so the fantasists will be, while they have their health, and while society lets them be. Most people just work around them. Some exploit them. Some manipulate them. I seem only able to observe them with incredulity - but often with horror.