Thursday, November 30, 2006

“Bulging trousers” sealed the win

bulgeJudges for this year's annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award were moved by first-time author Ian Hollingshead’s evocation of “a commotion of grunts and squeaks, flashing unconnected images and explosions of a million little particles.” His description of “bulging trousers” sealed the win, the judges said.

“Because Hollingshead is a first-time writer, we wished to discourage him from further attempts,” the judges — editors of Literary Review magazine — said in a statement. “Heavyweights like Thomas Pynchon and Will Self are beyond help at this point.”

The prize aims to skewer “the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel.”

Some of the other contenders produced equally excruciating descriptions of sex and things sexual. Mark Haddon compared sexual rapture to "the smell of coconut" and "brass firedogs". Tim Willcocks, this year's runner-up, wrote about medieval passion in a forge: "In the pit of his stomach a cauldron boiled and some seething and nameless brew rose up through his spine and filled his brain with the Devil's Fire."

Go here to read more about this year's award.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Things are moving too quickly!

On Saturday, my son went off with a whole bunch of his erstwhile classmates for the ritual post-matric ‘klomp pomp’ (*) in Plett. That same day, my fifteen-year-old daughter got her nose pierced.

At this rate, I’m going to be a grandfather soon!

(*) Afrikaans (colloq.): gang bang

Friday, November 24, 2006

A blue plaque for a Zulu king

cetshwayocetshwayo blue plaqueCetshwayo kaMpande, the Zulu king who, in 1879, inflicted upon the British the most crushing defeat they had known, has been honoured with an English Heritage Blue Plaque. Only the legendary British fightback at Rorke's Drift, immortalised in the 1964 film Zulu starring Michael Caine, has preserved the reputation of those military leaders who decided to take him on in the Zulu War. Cetshwayo was played by Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, later leader of South Africa's mainly Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party.

king cetshwayoThe plaque was unveiled on 30th October at 18 Melbury Road, London, W14, where he spent a month in 1882 following his exile from Zululand. During his stay, he met Prime Minister Gladstone and visited Queen Victoria. Although the duration of his stay was short, his visit made a significant political impact - very few African princes, and no other Zulus (save those accompanying Cetshwayo) had visited London at this time.

cetshwayo london houseIan Knight, a historian and author, said: "Everyone in London was curious to see this guy who had given the British such a bloody nose. As is often the case, the British secretly admired the pluckiness of an underdog. They lined the streets for a look, all expecting him to be a scowling savage in a loincloth but he turned out to be impeccably dressed in European clothes. He apparently made a great impression on Queen Victoria and everyone else he met and ended up being cheered wherever he went."

While honouring of Cetshwayo in this way has been generally welcomed, the historian and writer Kwame Osei had this to say on the website Black Britain. "It would be of more value if it were part of a wider programme such as apologising for enslaving Africans and reappraising how African people are viewed, portrayed and treated in British society."

The South African Times article on this event ends with a list of some other South Africans who have been honoured with a blue plaque:

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor? I immediately thought of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he of the albatross, and was sure that he wasn’t South African so went to check on Wikipedia. I had the wrong man, of course! Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, someone I'd never heard of before, was an English composer born in Croydon to an English mother and a Sierra Leonean father. Huh?? So, why did the South African Times put him down as a South African? I did a bit of digging and found a really interesting article about him but this is all it mentions in terms of a South African connection:

Gwennie (his daughter) changed her name to Avril after her first divorce, as a symbol of a new beginning. As Avril Coleridge-Taylor, she had considerable success as a conductor and composer (the Ghanaian national anthem is by her); but, having moved to South Africa in the 1950s, and the colour of her father's skin being discovered, she was subjected to all the intolerance apartheid could muster, and unable to work.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Beef and chorizo stew

For those of you who like your stews wholesome and spicy, you may like to try this stew I concocted a couple of weeks ago. It was delicious enough for me to try it again the other day.

In my usual way when it comes to cooking (apart from baking), I tend to be rather hazy when it comes to being precise about ingredients. I know that some people prefer to be given exact quantities for ingredients so I’ve tried to provide some sort of guide as to how much of everything you need.

2 large onions
lots of garlic
olive oil
1-2 fresh chillies (or crushed dried chillies)
½ kilo stewing beef
3-4 medium carrots
10-15 shallots
3 large potatoes or 15-20 new potatoes
boiling water
1 chorizo (*) sausage
4-5 bay leaves
2 cubes of beef stock
red wine
lots of chopped parsley (**)
black olives (optional)

Coarsely chop the onions and 3-4 garlic cloves. It’s a good idea to peel them first! If using fresh chillies, chop them finely. Sauté the onions in olive oil with the oregano and chillies. This makes a spicier version of what the Portuguese call ‘refogado’ (onions sautéed in olive oil until brown and sweet). Chop the beef into 2-3cm cubes. Add the beef and stir until browned on all sides.

beef and chorizo
Chop the carrots into discs ½–1cm thick. Stir into the mixture together with the shallots. If using large potatoes, peel and chop into pieces the size of a new potato. New potatoes don’t need to be peeled or chopped but they absorb much more flavour if peeled (tedious!) or chopped in half. Stir the potatoes into the mixture.

Cover with boiling water and adjust heat until the stew is simmering quite vigorously.

Remove outer skin from the chorizo and cut into cubes about ½ cm thick. Stir ½ or slightly less into the stew along with the bay leaves and crumbled stock cubes. Stir in lots of crushed garlic. Add about 1 cup of red wine.

Add salt to taste but be sure not to over-do it as stock cubes can be quite salty.

Simmer for about 1 ½ - 2 hours, stirring the mixture each time it’s necessary to top up with more boiling water. Another cup of red wine can be added after an hour.

beef and chorizo
The beef and vegetables will be tender by this stage and the liquid will have started to thicken a bit. The chorizo, after softening in the beginning, will, however, have got harder as its moisture and flavour infuse the rest of the mixture. It’s still delicious so remains in the stew but is now joined by the remaining chorizo. Remove a few potatoes, mash them and return to the stew. This helps to thicken the stew. Stir in lots (not all) of chopped parsley along with the olives, if using them. If you’re a garlic addict like I am, you may want to stir in some more crushed garlic at this stage.

Simmer on a lower heat for ½ hour, stirring and topping up with water if necessary.

By the time it’s ready to serve, the newly added chorizo will have softened nicely. If you feel that the stew still needs thickening, stir in some thickening made from combining flour with the liquid from the stew. Make sure you stir it in carefully and properly as you don’t really want your stew swimming in lumpy liquid. And don’t over-do it as you don’t want to turn it into gloop.

beef and chorizo
Apart from the words of caution at the end, this stew is very simple to make. It’s delicious at any time but perfect for winter.

Serve on rice, garnished with lots of chopped parsley. And if you’re not concerned about all the starch you’re eating, provide crusty white bread for mopping up the juices.

(*) If you ever got to read my post on how I prefer Portuguese chouriço to Spanish chorizo, you may be wondering why I haven’t used chouriço in this stew. Quite simply, chorizo is readily available in the supermarkets here, chouriço isn’t. Incidentally, chorizo (and chouriço) can sometimes have quite a noticeable orange colour (probably from the paprika used to make it). My orange theme continues…....

(**) I’d like to try it with lots of chopped coriander.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My future is ORANGE!

I start work in Amsterdam on January 2nd. In an orange building!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Synchronicity - my future's orange?

caroline's orange scribbleHaving grown up in the sixties and seventies, orange has never been one of my favourite colours, but, perhaps as a result of the synchronicity that Caroline keeps going on about, orange has featured rather heavily in my life of late. I may not have the sequence right, but here is the evidence.

After many months of cadging my broadband service from the bar next door, I eventually started paying for my own connection. For no particular reason other than seeing a promotion at Maplins, I chose Orange. This came after many months of deciding that I prefer Firefox to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. No, there’s no connection between Firefox and Orange, but the Firefox logo is also orange in colour.I then embarked on a vigorous defence of redheads (aka gingers) which was closely followed by my recipe for the ‘best carrot cake in the world’.

Are you beginning to see a common thread through all of this?

I then managed to get myself an interview with a major bank in Amsterdam whose logo is rather orange. Not really an odd thing for a Dutch organisation as the House of Orange has dominated Dutch political life since William I of Orange (also known as "William the Silent" and "Father of the Fatherland") organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years' War (1566 - 1648) led to an independent Dutch state.

Although I could dredge up the Dutch connection with South Africa, I think that may be stretching a point to far. But it does remind me that I still have to do a post about my 121st flag visitor.

limeys bagAnyway, as a result of the impending interview (this coming Monday), I thought it worthwhile to get my wardrobe up to scratch. Unlike the stereoptypical view of a gay man, shopping just isn’t my thing, particularly clothes shopping. However, once I force myself to trawl the shops looking for new garments, I can get into the spirit of the exercise. Over the past week or so, I’ve been on a bit of a shopping spree, primarily to find myself a decent suit. En route, I bought myself a few odds and ends that have nothing to do with the interview. I actually went a bit mad buying jumpers, jerseys as we call them in South Africa, at Limeys who have been having a great sale.

And, guess what, their sales shopping bag is orange!

I didn’t get my suit there but I got a really beautiful one that cost me a small fortune from Paul Smith. Although buying a suit would usually be a rather unpleasant ordeal for me, my rather sentimental streak narrowed the choices enough to make it relatively simple. Paul Smith is an international designer, especially renowned for his men’s wear, whose roots are in Nottingham. He’s known for his predilection for stripes, stripes of many colours, not necessarily orange. I decided on a Paul Smith suit as I thought it would be nice to own something with a strong Nottingham connection as I may be leaving Nottingham soon. Yes, yes, counting one’s chickens before they hatch and all that, but that’s the way my mind works.

Just in case you’re wondering, there isn’t a hint of orange in the suit!

The final nail in the orange coffin (I’m not obsessed with my death clock!) was visiting Caroline’s blog for the first time in a couple of weeks. Yep, more evidence of orange - her orange scribble is at the top of the page.

The future’s bright, the future’s orange?

There's lots of orange stuff for you to view below. If you want to see bigger versions of the clips, click on the numbers.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Too many wakeup calls!

Most people would agree that the sound of the morning alarm must rate high up there with the sound of nails scratching a blackboard and the sound of an epidural needle crunching through flesh as amongst the worst sounds in the world. Ok, maybe my comparisons aren’t the best as blackboards aren’t used anymore and listening to a needle crunching through flesh in preparation for an epidural may not be that common. But, I’m sure you get my point.

Up until not so many years ago, most people used a proper clock to wake up. Proper clocks that made proper clock noises. Including wakeup alarms. Hearing a morning wakeup alarm at any other time of the day was most unusual.

These days, many of us use our mobiles as an alarm. And while mobiles often have retro phone ringing sounds, they don’t seem to have retro alarm noises. Well, mine doesn’t. ‘Consumers want choice’ is the capitalist mantra. And, boy, do we have choice when it comes to ringtones - the world is awash with them! Apart from the sound of an old-fashioned alarm clock! So I shouldn’t be surprised that some idiot in my office has recently got the same phone as I have and uses the same ringtone that I use to wake up in the morning.

It’s driving me fucking mad!!!

And now there are five....

....countries that recognise same-sex marriage.

With yesterday's passing of the Civil Union Bill, South Africa joins Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Spain as countries where same-sex marriage is legal.

It can certainly be argued that the Bill still allows for discrimination in that it provides for equal but separate ways of getting married depending on whether a couple is gay or straight. But, as Johannesburg's Business Day put it in their editorial:

Do the means matter, as long as the end is the same? Can separate ever be equal?

It is possible that these questions will still have to be answered by the Constitutional Court, despite the legislature's best efforts to find the middle road. Government appears to have recognised that the compromise position is not ideal in the long term. Patrick Chauke, who chairs Parliament's home affairs committee, is already talking of the need for a comprehensive review of the marriage laws, whether or not the Civil Union Bill ends up before the Constitutional Court again.

In an ideal world, one law should cater for everyone, regardless of gender or sexual persuasion. But it was probably wise for the lawmakers to take into account the fact that SA is not an especially tolerant society -- our diversity may make living here infinitely more interesting than it is in more homogenous states, but there are downsides too. The Civil Union Bill could be seen in the same way as some of the political reforms that were introduced in the dying days of the apartheid era. They did not go nearly far enough, but served as a means of persuading a conservative society to accept long-overdue change without provoking avoidable conflict. The sky did not fall in, and racial attitudes have progressed rapidly since then.

If the Civil Union Act serves to extend an existing right to more South Africans, while at the same time placating traditionalists, it would be churlish to be overly critical of its means of doing so.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Are my days numbered?

'Nomads to be first people wiped out by climate change' says a headline in the Mail and Guardian. So, perhaps, my 791,008,169 seconds (as of now) calculated by the Death Clock are a bit too optimistic. It seems as if there's no point to quitting my filthy fag habit.

If, perhaps, you have a morbid fascination with death, you may want to go here. After scaring yourself and rekindling your long dormant interest in religion, solace can be found here. And if you want to know more about that pic (beautiful, isn't it?), take a look here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Pine needles and poppies

xmas treeHeard in the lift this morning:

Brunette: I was looking at the xmas decorations in the loft yesterday and wondering if we need to get any new ones.

Blonde: Yes, that time of the year is almost upon us again.

Brunette: And I was thinking that we may get a real tree for a change this year.

Blonde: How nice. I was talking to Becky in HR (*) today, she’s thinking of getting one too.

Brunette: They’re a bit messy, but they smell so nice, don’t you think?

(*) It may have been 'Tracey from Accounts' or 'Sandra from Collections'

I got out at that point. It surprises me that people get artificial Christmas trees. If you’re going to have a tree, have a real one, I say. So what if it sheds needles within days of putting the thing up? And, a few weeks later, when you pack the decorations away, make sure you put a few needles away with the decorations. Along with ancient, favourite decorations, they create a sense of continuity that I like.

Despite being a cynical old bastard, I have a sentimental streak that surprises even me.

While on the topic of celebratory plants, I’ll digress to another, one that is much more topical at this time of the year, than a Christmas tree. Yes, it’s almost poppy day again.

I got rather verbose about it last year, even slightly sentimental, so I won’t go over old ground. What follows is 'new ground', to me that is.

white peace poppyUntil a few days ago, I was completely unaware of the ‘clash of the poppies’ as, to me, only the red poppy had any symbolic significance. I now know that the white poppy is similarly symbolic yet has a whiff of controversy about it:

It was first introduced by the Women's Co-operative Guild in 1933 and was intended as a lasting symbol for peace and an end to all wars.

Worn on Armistice Day, now Remembrance Sunday, the white poppy was produced by the Co-operative Wholesale Society because the Royal British Legion had refused to be associated with its manufacture.

While the white poppy was never intended to offend the memory of those who died in the Great War, many veterans felt that its significance undermined their contribution and the lasting meaning of the red poppy. Such was the seriousness of this issue that some women lost their jobs in the 1930s for wearing white poppies.

The battle of the poppies continues to this day with clashes being reported in Canada.

Although I admitted to sentimentality above, I’ve never been one to get too worked up by wars of the past, no matter how tragic, how much I owe them the freedoms I take for granted and even though they may have killed some of my ancestors. However, I do think that Rebecca Sullivan’s (*) poem, ‘There Lie Forgotten Men’, chosen to lead tomorrow’s Armistice Day celebrations is very good:

From 'There Lie Forgotten Men'

She stands there alone

At the edge of the silent place

And she is shocked

New wars brew and these forgotten men

Will play no part in them

The dead silence warn no ears but hers

In great halls, in moments of great decision

What they fought for is forsaken

And by day's end new gravestones

Appear on the blood red ground

She finds what she seeks

'Sgt John Malley Age 27'

His life brutally ended

And she stands by his grave

But he can give no answers

And she weeps for him

For the empty hole he left behind

And for the new emptiness

Soon to join the black chasm.

And her tears join the flood.

(*) Rebecca Sullivan is a 13-year-old schoolgirl who has never written poetry before.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Marriage in South Africa - true equality at last?

The gay marriage thing has been going through a rocky ride in South Africa in the past few months. The Constitutional Court gave the government a year in which to amend the current marriage laws so as to afford gays and lesbians the same rights as heterosexuals when it came to legalising their unions. If the government fails to do so, the current marriage law will, by default, refer to both gay and straight couples.

Although the objections came quite late in the year, they came from the expected quarters, ie the religious and traditionalist bigots. In the past few months, South Africa's top legal minds have been grappling with how to comply with the Constitutional Court ruling yet not upset those against it too much.

A report on the whole issue was repressed until quite recently. Now that it has surfaced, one of its rather novel ideas, one that could keep most people happy, has emerged:

The solution ultimately proposed by commissioners is novel and creative, and for that alone, it is a mercy that publication of the report has been permitted.

Take the existing Marriage Act, they say, and fix it by adding a simple phrase so it will apply to heterosexual as well as homosexual couples. Then introduce a new law, that could be called, for example, the Orthodox Marriage Act, and make this law for the exclusive use of partners wanting to marry under religious rites and who have problems using the generic marriage law. This new law would be identical to the updated and now all-embracing "old" law, except for the addition of a limited definition of "orthodox marriage" -- and for being limited to opposite-sex couples.

Couples could then choose to marry under the law that most suited their religious, moral and other views.

It doesn't seem as if that route will be adopted as the Civil Unions Bill is still on the cards, a route described by some Constitutional Court judges as inadequate in guaranteeing true equality as it makes for a 'separate but equal' status. The way things stand at the moment, religious groups opposed to the term "marriage" in the Civil Unions Bill are set to lose their battle after the National Assembly's home affairs committee adopted the African National Congress's (ANC) amended version of the Bill on Wednesday (8/11/2006).

"Civil-union partner means a spouse in a marriage or a partner in a civil partnership," reads the amended Bill, in defiance of religious groups' demands.

It will be interesting to see if the law gets passed as is to be followed by later legal challenges as to its fairness in the eyes of last year's Constitutional Court ruling.

But, whether it gets challenged or not, and whether any such challenge is successful or not, South Africa is on the brink of legalising the rights of gay and lesbian unions.

A truly remarkable achievement!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Do you want to play a game?

Animator vs AnimationSeptember 12th
They're simulations, really, not games. Both involve shooting. One interactive, the other not. One will raise a smile, the other will make you think.

I found them here and here (via digg). You'll need flash installed to play them. One of them has to be downloaded so make sure you press the download button when you get there.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The best carrot cake recipe in the world

carrot cakeSome while back,Terri gave me a present after returning from her wanderings around Europe. More recently, she was talking about carrot cakes and I commented that I know the best carrot cake recipe in the world. With a claim like that, she wanted to know more.

I made it this past weekend as a sort-of welcome home present for James who invited a few friends round to his place to welcome him back after his recent run-in with a bus in Hangzhou. So, there's absolutely NO connection between this post and what has been written on this blog about gingers/carrot-tops in the past few days.

The great thing about this cake, apart from its extreme deliciousness, is how very easy it is to make. Follow the simple instructions and there's absolutely no way of landing up with a flop.

250 ml oil
4 extra large eggs
500 ml sugar
10 ml ground cinnamon
5ml ground ginger
dash ground nutmeg
5 ml salt
750 ml grated carrots
625 ml flour
10 ml bicarbonate of soda
10 ml baking powder
grated rind of 1 lemon
250 ml flaked almonds

Beat the oil, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt together in a bowl. Stir in the grated carrot.

 eggs and oilsugar and spicesugar mixed in carrot addedcarrot mixed in
Blend the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and stir into the carrot mixture. Break the nuts into the bowl, stir in with the grated lemon rind. Pour into a deep, greased and floured 25 cm cake tin.

Bake at 180 C for about 80 – 90 minutes until piercing the cake with a skewer leaves the skewer clean.

 flour and nutsflour mixed inin the cake tinin the ovenready to eat
What about the icing, you may be asking? It seems to be traditional to have a a lemon- or orange-flavoured icing spread on top of carrot cake. Icing, of course, helps hide any cracks the cake may develop on top. Anyway, I'm sure it would taste good with icing but it's totally unnecessary as the cake is delicious enough without any.

See, I told you this is a simple recipe.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Peas in a pod?

saddamdie groot krokodil
One got off very lightly, it seems that the other won't.

One hundred thousand, here we come!

nearly 100000I think it's going to happen sometime today, Guy Fawkes Day. The best of the fireworks may have happened yesterday, but they'll still be celebrating me tonight.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Gingers aren't mingers!

danea by klimt
Danae by Gustav Klimt. Many painters have exhibited a fascination with red hair. The colour "titian" takes its name from Titian, who often painted women with red hair. Other painters notable for their redheads include the Pre-Raphaelites, Edmund Leighton, Modigliani , Gustav Klimt and Sandro Botticelli, whose famous painting, The Birth of Venus, depicts the mythological goddess, Venus, as a redhead.
Prince Idon of Mu fled his homeland, arriving in Atlantis at sunset. 'Moved to tears, he wished that its beautiful red tones could be saved for posterity. In an instant his hair was changed to red and every succeeding generation of redheads was reminded of that first spell-binding sunset.'

So what is it about the British and their antipathy towards redheads? Or, to use their pejorative term, what is it that’s wrong about gingers (pronounced ging-ers, both hard g’s)? Not only do they use it pejoratively, they combine it with another British pejorative term (one I particularly dislike), ‘minger’ (also a hard g), so that you have ‘ginger-minger’.

Doug isn’t the first person to suggest that I may have a thing about redheads. In fact I’ve joked about it myself in the past. Not only do I happen to have a wife and two children who are all redheads but, my ex, a boyfriend of seven years, is one too. And there I was, two nights ago, swooning about the redheaded double bassist of the Puppini Sisters.

So do I have a thing about them?

Well, having a wife who’s a redhead made the likelihood of my having redheaded children rather high:

According to ‘The Redhead Encyclopedia’, a book devoted to the study and celebration of the flame-haired, there's a 50% chance the gene will be passed to the children if one parent has red hair. If one or two parents aren't redheaded but carry the gene, there is a 25% chance of having a ginger child. And if both parents are redheaded? It can be any colour as long as it's red.

Although there’s a tinge of red in my beard (rapidly being superseded by swathes of grey!) and the hair on my arms can look slightly red when seen at a certain angle in bright sunlight, I’m not a redhead. Well, not enough of one, I don’t think, to ensure that my offspring are redheaded. So, my choice of mate explains them.

But why would I choose a redheaded mate?

Research on the matter offers completely different reasons:

Rees (2004) suggests that the vividness and rarity of red hair may lead to it becoming desirable in a partner and therefore it could become more common through sexual selection. But, Harding et al (2000) proposed that red hair was not the result of positive selection but rather occurs due to a lack of negative selection. In Africa, for example, red hair is selected against because high levels of sun would be harmful towards fair skin. However, in Northern Europe this does not happen and so redheads can occur through genetic drift.

Contrary to what Harding proposes, selecting against red hair doesn’t apply to me as I selected my mate in Africa. So, perhaps it was sexual selection in my case? Of course it was sexual selection! Choice in other words. How else does one human select another? I can’t say that I’m that comfortable with the idea of my selection criteria being governed by forces of nature over which I have no control. Um, having said that, I’m gay (despite the anomalous selection of a female redhead), something over which I have no control. Oh, bollocks to natural selection being the reason for my choice, there must be some other reason.

Ah, but ‘ginger’ is Cockney slang for queer (it rhymes with ginger beer) so maybe that’s where my liking for redheads comes from? That still doesn’t make sense of why I’d go after a redheaded WOMAN. But, as I said, that’s somewhat of an anomaly, so best not concentrate on that. Rather let me move on to the choice of a redheaded man.

seth green
Here you have Seth Green, one of many famous redheads. Rick Astley, Julianne Moore and Tilda Swinton are three others.
If I’m to do this ‘scientifically’, I suppose I should consider each of his traits/talents/attractions in turn, then determine how his redheadedness features in comparison with them. Let’s see, beautiful blue eyes, great legs,strong hands, lovely wrists, fun to be around, big cock, fantastic in bed….yadda yadda. Don’t worry, I’m beginning to bore myself, so I’m probably boring you too. You know what, I’m beginning to think that this is going nowhere. He is, however, closer to my son’s age than he is to mine. Could that mean anything? Ok, let’s NOT go there! I can assure you….

The thing is, as I write this I’m beginning to think that I do have a thing, not an obsession mind you, about redheads. Not all of them, let me hasten to say. I’ve got nothing against freckles but some of them do have a washed out look that would suit a blinking troglodyte freshly exposed to the light. Even my wife had a few concerns about our son getting his ear pierced. ‘I don’t want him to look like trailer-park trash. It could look so common with his hair colour.’ I could see her point but she really shouldn’t have worried as he’s a very good looking boy and couldn’t look common no matter how hard he tried.

So, I sort of acknowledge that there are certain redheads who look insipid and unsightly but there are so many of them who are really gorgeous. I still can’t understand the British ‘ginger-minger’ thing. The way they use the term sometimes reminds me of the way some South Africans use the K-word. Why else would Catherine Tate manage to get so much mileage out of her sketch where she’s forced to seek refuge in a haven for redheads? If redheads were a recognisable ethnic minority, the slurs you hear against them would be covered by hate crime legislation.

Since there are such relatively high proportions of redheads in the Irish and Scottish populations, perhaps this is a strange manifestation of English condescension rather than a British thing? Maybe it stems from suspicion towards anthing that isn’t conventional? Or is it an ancient throwback to the Roman loathing of the barbarians(*)? Well, whatever it is, it’s strong enough for redheads to feel ‘persecuted’ enough to set up websites like redandproud and redprince.

ophelia by millais
The redheaded pre-Raphaelite beauty Lizzie Siddal, the model for John Everett Millais' Ophelia. She almost caught her death posing in a bath of cold water wearing a vintage dress bought for her by the artist for a princely four pounds. She eventually died of a laudanum overdose and was buried with her love letters from her husband, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Deciding to retrieve his poetry and publish it, Rossetti had her exhumed. Legend has it that despite the fact she'd been dead seven years, Siddal looked exactly as she had in life. Apart, that is, from her red hair, which had continued to grow until it filled the coffin.
For those redheads that feel persecuted, I think they should take solace from this statement from Jonathan L Rees, Professor of Dermatology at the University of Edinburgh:.

Red hair is such a distinctive characteristic that one can imagine, in some future world, two red heads meeting up on some distant planet and the conversation quickly turning to their place of birth! Whether or not they were both of Celtic blood, they could be sure that at least one of their genes was remarkably similar.

And, they also need to know that there are people like me who find a lot of them very attractive. In fact, some people seem rather obsessed with them. The Redhead Cluster Phenomenon was set up by a guy who has this to say:

‘Since boyhood I’ve always believed, at the deepest level, that redheads are standard-bearers of the grandest and most wondrous human beauty. Redheaded males, I mean. I barely notice girls, and I certainly barely notice red-haired girls, despite coming of age in the Farrah Fawcett-Majors era.’

It’s been a long while since I bedded a redhead. Mmmm…something to think about now that the weekend is upon me….

(*) The etymology for the word barbarian:
Derived from the Latin word: barbarosa (meaning redhead). The Roman Empire had many battles against some of the Nordic tribes, who happened to have red hair, and so those Nordic tribes were labelled as barbarosae by the Romans. Because the Romans thought they were barbaric, they hated redheads, so to them barbarosa was a negative adjective. Ever since, many non-redheaded people (not just those of Roman descent), think of them in the same way. Incidentally, Judas Iscariot was also meant to have been a redhead. More ammuniton for those who call redheads 'ginger-mingers'?

And, sticking to etymology, where does the word ‘ginger’ (meaning redhead), come from?

Picking up stompies (*)

Walking into that freezing box, euphemistically known as the smoking-room, I overhead part of the conversation between two fellow workers:

Tall, thin, cadaverous youth (the sort that pronounces it ‘yoof’) with wonky teeth: ‘I don’t know how I managed it, I was so pissed, but I managed to shag her. I woke up in the morning to find her there and thought, what the fuck, who are you.’

Much shorter woman: ‘What was wrong with her?’

Yoof: ‘I suppose she was alright, not really that much of a minger.’

Woman (sounding slightly defensive): ‘She probably didn’t look her best if she had a hangover.’

Yoof: ‘Yeah, you’re right. I think I’ll keep her number, maybe text her sometime.’

Woman: ‘For when you’re desperate?’

Yoof (grinning wonkily): ‘Yeah.’

Refreshing honesty? Maybe. But it sounds so wrong to me. Since when did men starting talking to women about other women like that?

(*) South African slang (not to be confused with Stompie Moeketsi): stompie - A cigarette butt. From the Afrikaans stomp, meaning "stump". The term picking up stompies means intruding into a conversation at its tail end, with little information about its content.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Michelle came up trumps

nick pini
nick pini
nick pini
nick pini

puppini sisters

puppini sisters
Oh yes, those pics are a lot better than the ones I took. SWOOOOOOOOON!!!!!!!!

Thanks, Michelle.

What did I do on Halloween?

puppini sistersI went to a burlesque show and fell in lust love.

Mike, being an occasional purveyor of free concert/gig tickets, invited me and Michelle to The Social last night for an evening of burlesque.

We got there at 8.30 but it was 11.30 before the main act, ‘The Puppini Sisters’, did their thing. Up until then, barring an uplifting rock act (hardly burlesque!), the evening was very much like a student revue. Being rather tired from too little sleep the night before, I’d contemplated leaving before the latter day Andrews Sisters appeared on stage.

I’m pleased I didn’t.

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They were slick, they were polished, and they looked just right (*). More importantly, however, the double bassist was totally gorgeous. He looked like a young, much better-looking, Boris Becker. And, if anything, he looked even better for the part – white vest, braces, fedora, casually confident. I couldn’t take my eyes off him! Although the crowd was about 15 people deep and I was at the back, I’m sure he was smiling at me.

Why else did he seem to respond each time I smiled back?

I knew that my camera wouldn’t do justice to the event, let alone him, so I jumped on to Google when I got home. There was lots on the Puppini Sisters (an official website as well as the obligatory myspace profile) but absolutely nothing on Nick ‘Fingers’ Pini apart from a few references here and there. But, not a single photograph!

puppini sistersnick pininick pinipuppini sisters

Michelle, you were there at the front with your fancy camera – make sure you send me some decent pics of him!

(*) Mike’s opinion: ‘In a sophisticated cabaret bar, their act would have gone down a treat. In this sweaty rock venue, it all fell rather flat’. He’s right, of course, but I didn’t feel flat at all.