Saturday, 26 January 2008

Happy Birthday Hector

Two today! Hope your foot gets better soon, Buddy.

Home Very Sweet Home

My last post seems to have caused a stir, as I thought it might. I've considered removing it several times, but it does reflect my thinking at the time, and I feel that a blog is of limited merit if it's all sweetness and light.
I'd hate any of my friends to think I didn't love them though, and it's not as if I'm never buying anyone else a drink ever again!
I'm all moved into my new pad in Headington. It is absolutely fantastic, and Glynn and I are getting on famously. Our landlords seem to be extremely considerate too. It's wonderful to have a lot of space after being in a bedsit. I was happy there, but I've realised what I've been missing. Principally the chance to cook properly. I walked in from Oxford last night with Glynn - a bracing half hour stroll up a hill, and I think that's going to be a much-loved route.
I've got my own bathroom (with a bath!) and a very big bedroom. There is a dining room, a living room and a kitchen that is almost as big as my last place. And we have a whopping garden, and loads of room for parking in the front. Rock and roll!
And, of course, friends will be very welcome here.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Message To My Friends

There are going to be a few changes around here.
I've written countless times about how much I value my friends, and I really mean it. I'm extremely lucky that so many people want to spend time with me, and I derive a huge amount of pleasure from socialising. In fact stand-up comedy is a form of socialising, as is watching sport, so really socialising is what I love to do best.
But it is costing too much. It's more than I can afford, and more than I am willing to pay.
First and foremost, I am going to be spending less time and money in the pub. I don't need drink to lubricate the old confidence cogs, and I don't like getting drunk. If you do, that's your look-out. It's just not my bag, and it's not my job to sponsor you.
So I'm serving notice that I am going to be avoiding the whole round buying thing. If buying rounds really works, then it means that everyone ends up paying the same anyway. Therefore anyone who complains that I'm not getting involved in rounds is expecting me to either a) drink the same amount as them, or b) subsidise their own drinking. I have no wish to do a), as I'm perfectly happy with water most of the time. And no-one who is a true friend would expect me to do b).
I should acknowledge that I have friends who are very generous at the bar - Adam is one. But I do find that I often go out of an evening and personally drink very little, yet find myself at the bar and feel obliged to offer other people drinks. That's over, and it's not going to change if I get rich.
I'm also hoping that some of my friends might be more imaginative about how we socialise. Pubs are great, but there's more to life than boozers - or should be - and we ought to look at cheaper and more interesting alternatives sometimes.
Yakking endlessly on the phone costs money (and is F-KING boring), and so does travelling to London. I don't live there any more, and that means my London friends are not going to see me so often. That's just life. We can still keep in contact via email, and I've appreciated it when people have made the effort to come and see me in Oxford.
And sometimes I don't want to go out, and I just want to watch a DVD. I'm not going to be as apologetic about that in future.
This post probably seems rather ungrateful and harsh. I AM truly grateful that I have so many friends. I love you guys. But friends want the best for each other, and I owe it to myself to spend money wisely, and to those who have supported me financially to pay them back as soon as possible.
There we have it.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Carolina In Our Minds

All eyes are on the great state of South Carolina today for the Republican Presidential primary.
Senator Jim DeMint - for whom I campaigned in 2004 - is backing Mitt Romney, for whom a very good friend is working. I'm sorry that my own work made it impossible for me to go out there and drink it it all in. Maybe once the GOP has selected their candidate and my current job is over it'll be possible for a little while. We'll see.
I'm pretty busy right now, and will be until May. I've had to pull out of an engagement I was looking forward to this weekend, and I ask my friends to be patient with me for a bit. If this project goes as we hope, the world will be a better place.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Bad Tommy In The House

It happened again.

I went to see Charlie Wilson’s War last night. People were nattering away during the adverts, which always annoys me, as they are worth seeing too. When the film began, a few people carried on talking.

I have been looking forward to seeing this film for some time. Talking during a movie is extremely rude. Yet one tends to suffer in (one’s own) silence, especially among strangers.

Not this time. Bad Tommy surfaced again, and as per last time, he spoke in a high-pitched but insistent voice. ‘Shut up’ he demanded. And to Big Tommy’s surprise, a woman actually responded ‘Sorry’.

Is Bad Tommy really bad at all? Or is he a better, more courageous version of me? Is he, perhaps, the REAL me? Larry David says that the gloriously tactless Larry of his sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm is in fact the real him.

So how was the film? Jolly good. A colleague has suggested, rightly I think, that the female characters are not as well developed as the male ones, but otherwise it’s great. Tom Hanks is terrific, showing that he is far from one-dimensional as an actor. But what really drew me in to see the movie was Philip Seymour Hoffman.

He is the best actor I have ever seen. I’ll repeat that – he is the best actor I have EVER seen. No-one else that I’ve watched has the chameleon qualities that he possesses. He is a big burly wrestler who can morph into a little camp guy like Truman Capote. He played another camp fellow in Boogie Nights, but the two men were utterly different. I’ve seen him portray an addict in both Love Liza and Owning Mahowny, but that's addiction is all the two characters had in common. He was an uptight doctor in Patch Adams, and that was like nothing else. He was a brilliant baddie in the third Mission Impossible.

There are lots of powerful actors with a magnificent presence. But even with Robert De Niro I always feel it’s him on screen. Hoffman shifts shapes, inhabits different souls. He’s just awesome.

And next time you’re watching him in a film, for God’s sake shut up. Otherwise Bad Tommy will get you.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Step Into My Mind

One of the reasons that I believe any play, novel or screenplay that I might write would likely be utter drivel is that I am appallingly sentimental.

I am pathologically opposed to non-happy endings. I can feel tearful at the slightest emotional provocation, although mercifully I also have a formidable ability to prevent myself from actually crying. I enjoy the films of Robin Williams. I like You’re Beautiful by James Blunt, although I must admit that I am beginning to see why people find him irritating, and I enjoy the fact that my liking some of his songs annoys others.

And yes, I still talk to and kiss my teddies and toys. A lot. My future wife – in the unlikely-under-the-circumstances-that-I-find-one - will have to accept this.

I’m sure that being too sentimental is a major character flaw. But so is being a terminal cynic. Some people resolutely refuse to show vulnerability, and openly resent innocence and joy in others. Those people deserve to die alone. (See, I’m NOT that sentimental.)

I absolutely believe in soul-mates, and in growing old together. I also believe in not compromising, and in staying single forever rather than settling for second best or misleading someone. Is that sentimental or unsentimental? I’m not sure.

Birthdays and anniversaries matter.

I talk about dark and deviant things on stage, and I don’t like fluffy surrealist comedians at all. But while my mind is fascinated by the gutter, my heart is in the clouds.

I like songs about heartbreak and chick-flicks. James Taylor is vastly superior to whatever rock guitar hero you worship. Sitcoms don’t have to be gritty and challenging. I like people who love their pets. Losing pets is miserable. I am a romantic. Watching children and adults alike take delight in something is a profound pleasure.

Oddly I combine all this with being fantastically right wing. I’m a complex man. But in the final analysis, a very sexy one.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

New Beginnings

So I’m going to move from Summertown. I’ll miss it quite a lot – I feel a bond with the place because Dad was brought up a few streets away, and I was here in my final year at university. I’m extremely fond of my local video and DVD hire store, Videosyncratic, and of the Summertown Wine Café. I have made real friendships with people in both establishments, and not being able to pop in of a weekday afternoon (often) is going to be a loss.

On the positive side, I am looking forward to living with Glynn hugely, and the Headington pad we will share is just fantastic. It’s not an insignificant gesture for a friend to happily welcome you into what is already their home, and I really appreciate it.

I sense that this place will be the base for some great things. It has an excellent kitchen, and there’s far more room, so I won’t feel as cooped up as I do here. That should encourage a healthier and cheaper lifestyle.

Glynn and I are going to write together, and we have similar interests and get on exceptionally well. I should be able to join another gym cheaply and play squash. I will find new places to hang out, and I was born there. Oxford United no longer play a few streets away (more’s the pity) but I can look back with fondness on afternoons at the Manor Ground.

Headington, here I come.

It’s the next stage in the Great Adventure.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

Yeah!

Last night's gig was a bit patchy, but it was fun nonetheless, and lovely to be surrounded by friends.

Tonight I'm seeing buddies in town. I may have left you off the email list by mistake. I do apologise if so - come along to the All Bar One near Waterloo. I'll be there from about 6:30 pm.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Happy New Year!

Herewith a promise to post more frequently this year. I’ll TRY to do something every day, even if it’s short.

Herewith a reminder that it’s my birthday on the 14th January. I turn 32.

Herewith a further revelation to annoy those of you who care about what sort of music other people like. I think Chris de Burgh is great. Check this out. The Iranians agree, of course.

Oh, I'm on at the Ministry of Mirth tonight. 8pm at the Wheatsheaf. It's my first gig of the year, so I want to make it a good one.
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