Gina Snowdoll: Eeeeeks! It's a blog!
Gina's musings on transgenderism, fashion, music, records, books, telly, life, the universe and everything

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Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Disturbing Telly

There were two particularly disturbing programmes on Channel 4 last night. The first was V Graham Norton. At the start of the show Norton was lamenting the lack of any real news stories at the moment, citing the recent big story in the papers that the Queen had had to drive herself to a polo match, and also mentioning that one of the papers had devoted a whole half page to the fact that she had an A-Z in the pocket of the car door.

But then he wheeled out as a special guest some revolting person called Jade who I believe is a reject from that appalling Big Brother thing (which I refuse to enbolden). Never mind lack of real news, Graham, how about having a real guest? This ugly incoherent woman had no absolutely no redeeming features. She was completely talentless, unintelligent and UNINTERESTING.

The following programme was disturbing in a far more sinister sense, it being a documentary about the real life of Gary Glitter. I knew about the charges of possession of child pornography but I hadn't realised this odious man was actually a child abuser himself. The programme was interesting but very unpleasant at the same time, and has to be commended for the sensitive way in which it portayed one of Glitter's victims.

But lots of questions were left unanswered. There was talk of his daughter who was a friend of the abused girl I referred to just now, but she was only mentioned in passing. What happened to her? Was she another victim? And what of the child's mother? No mention was made of her whatsoever. I wonder if Glitter's family (i.e. daughter, mother of daughter - if still alive) are deliberately keeping quiet, or if there are legal implications which prevented the programme discussing them.

I was also shocked that the fan (male) they spoke to still talked fondly about the old days and proudly displayed for the camera a Glitter costume he had bought at auction, describing it as being his prize possession. How can this guy not renounce his hero? He surely can't deny what an evil man Glitter is.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 8:17 am [edit] 

Here's a spam email subject line I've not seen before:
Cat Litter Box - 90% Odor FREE!
Makes a change from all the spam about weight loss, hair loss, viagra and porn passwords, I suppose.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 7:52 am [edit] 

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Grrrrrrr...

The world's worst busker is playing (to use the word very loosely) outside my window. What a racket! He's just murdered "Brown Eyed Girl". Very scary.

If only I had some balloons with which to make water bombs.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 10:56 am [edit] 

Monday, July 29, 2002

Make a wish...

Hot hot hot... Too damn hot. What ghastly hot oppressive stifling weather. It's been absolutely unbearable in the office. But just as I was leaving work today (Hurrah! I always like leaving work) a light shower started. And I can't believe that some people immediately put their umbrellas up. Personally I found the rain refreshing.

At the station I met Karen and we travelled back home on the train together. She said that hoped it would rain properly soon, and I said "As far as I'm concerned I wish it would rain right now. In torrents. I don't care. I'll happily walk home through it."

So we got back to Didcot and what happened? Yep! The heaven's opened and it rained torrentially. The rain drops were the size of bullets. Needless to say I got soaked to the skin. But I couldn't complain, could I? I mean, I had asked for it, after all.

What I want to know is why don't my wishes come true when I ask for stuff like fame, fortune, a gorgeous body (a gorgeous somebody even)...?
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:05 pm [edit] 

Bored, bored, bored...

I've only been back at work a morning and I'm already feeling bored out of my skull. I think I might take a wander around Oxford now that it's lunchtime.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 11:20 am [edit] 

Sunday, July 28, 2002

Poo! Bum! Arse!

Back to work tomorrow.

*sigh*
posted by Gina Snowdoll 8:07 pm [edit] 

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Chocolat (something I'm not allowed)

I just watched a video of the film Chocolat which was a fairly inoffensive tale, though very predictable, and slightly irritating in that the actors kept getting their accents mixed up. They were supposed to be French but half the time they sounded like a Irish Americans. That's Hollywood for you I suppose (and I know that Johnny Depp's character was supposed to be Irish, but that doesn't explain the Irish accents for the people of the village in the story).
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:08 pm [edit] 

Pain in the neck

Ouch! I've pulled a muscle in my neck and it really hurts. To start with, yesterday, I'd hurt my arm - twisted it or something - and it was quite painful, but when I woke up this morning the pain had spread to my neck. Not fair.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:05 pm [edit] 

Bizarre Mail

This morning in the post I received a jiffy bag containing two pairs of pants.

"Ohhhh-errrrr!" I hear you cry. "Have you got a pervy stalker?"

Nah! It's quite innocent really. Does anyone else out there have a mother who will you mail items of underwear, etc, that you have left behind when visiting?
posted by Gina Snowdoll 10:48 am [edit] 

Friday, July 26, 2002

Arggggghhhh! That man again

Have you seen Jamie Oliver (not mentioned him for a while, have I?) in the latest telly advert for Sainsbury's? Scary to think that I predicted this back on the 5th July last year.

Just call me Gina the foreteller of doom.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:06 pm [edit] 

From Abba to Yo La Tengo

I've been busy today, hence not much internetting was done. I went into Oxford this morning to do some shopping. Bought a couple of paperbacks (a Tom Holt and that biography of Billy Connolly), a couple of Bowie CDs that were missing from my collection ("Aladdin Sane" and "Diamond Dogs"), and two Scandinavian style CD cabinets from Argos. Which weighed a ton! Also in Argos I got a pair of those cordless infra-red headphones, which should make it easier to practice electric guitar on headphones, as I found the lead was a real problem and was always getting caught in the guitar strap and accidentally yanking the phones off my head, etc.

Anyway, the CD cabinets came in kit form. Lots of bits of wood with holes in them, plus screws and dowels, so I spent a couple of hours this afternoon building the damn things. Then the next hour or so was spent putting the CDs onto the shelves, which required me having a good old sort out and arranging them all into alphabetical order. The first CD cabinet goes from Abba to The Damned, and the second is from Dana International (Israeli transsexual Eurovision Song Contest winner from a couple of years back) to Bill Nelson.

Which means that everything from Neu! to Yo La Tengo (plus compilations, etc) still needs to be housed. So I need to buy at least one more CD cabinet. I think that I will most likely will need two more - each supposedly holds 168 CDs, although I'm not sure what criteria was used to estimate this; my CD collection comes in a variety of different sized boxes and jewel cases. Mind that's scary. That means I have approx 600 CDs. Eeeeeks!
posted by Gina Snowdoll 8:33 pm [edit] 

The Temporary Plate Men

What is the deal with those men that you sometimes see who travel around the country carrying those red and white temporary car registration plates? I saw one such bod today at Didcot station, but you often see these fellows at roadsides trying to hitch a lift.

What is it all about? Who are they? What are they doing?

At a guess I'd say they were people who delivered new cars to showrooms and/or homes around the country and having delivered the vehicle have to make their return journey under their own steam, hence the hitchhiking. Seems the obvious answer to me. Am I right?
posted by Gina Snowdoll 8:17 pm [edit] 

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Happy Birthday Big Sis

If I was the Queen (as opposed to just a queen) then today would be my unofficial birthday, being exactly six months from my real birthday. A half-birthday, if you will. I always remember this as this date is also my sister's birthday. We were born exactly 18 months apart. Anyway, the poor thing is 40 today, which deserves a big Eeeeeks, certainly, but she's looking good on it. However, I shouldn't feel too sorry for her, as she is the one who is currently on holiday on some Greek island (whose name I don't remember).

And here's me on holiday in lovely, errrrmmm... Didcot. Great.

Earlier I needed to go down to the shops to do a few chores (bank, etc). Didcot is such a grim place. As far as I can see it has no redeeming features other than the railway station which gives a much needed means of escape.

And Didcot people are so scummy too. They look and act as if they've only just come down from the trees.

However, I am glad to be back home. I missed the cat, the little devil that he is, and I quite like to be back at my little house, being able to sleep in my own bed, etc. And I missed Emerald too (that is, my Fernandes electric guitar... sounds sad but I was getting withdrawal symptons!). Actually, when I arrived home yesterday I found that my most recent guitar had arrived. Yep! Another eBay purchase, but hardly a costly one. I went shopping in Tesco yesterday and spent more money than I spent on this new guitar. This one is - SHOCK HORROR - a classical guitar which I bought for the princely sum of £27 (apparently it's worth £80). Anyway, it's a really nice quality guitar, brand new (part of an overstock from a music fair, by all accounts), and it's great for noodling around on; just pick it up - no worries about leads and amplifiers and effects or whatever - and play. It's great.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 3:03 pm [edit] 

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

I'm home!

(collapses in a heap).

So... what's been happening with all you guys? What's new? Gimme your news!
posted by Gina Snowdoll 3:02 pm [edit] 

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Sorry folks, but blog entries are few and far between at the moment. I will be able to write more frequently when I return back home (tomorrow).

My parents have my sister's kids staying here at the moment, so things are a bit hectic; not much opportunity to get on the computer. I think they are off painting some papier mache that they did yesterday. You know the kind of thing, blow up balloons, and stick bits of newspaper all over them with flour and water paste. Very messy. This was one of the activities we did yesterday when my mum and dad were out at work and I was looking after the kids. We all got well and truly coated in flour and water paste. You should have seen us. Still, it kept them happy.

We also had a bit of a singalong when I got the guitar out and taught them the words to "Dobbin Has Only Got Three Legs", a jolly jaunty tune that you can do all sorts of silly voices to.

Anyhoo, I'd best be off, as I'm not supposed to be spending too long online on my parents' connection.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 12:23 pm [edit] 

Saturday, July 20, 2002

Skinner

A lot of my friends and family have commented to me that "Oh, I don't like that Frank Skinner," to which I usually reply "Oh, I dunno... I quite like him."

I admit, I always used to think he was a bit of a prat. He'd come out with the worst and often unfunny jokes and puns. We're talking excrutriatingly bad stuff here. For example, at the Brit Awards ceremony, which he hosted earlier this year, he made some awful gag along the lines of "Of course, in France now I'm known as Euro Skinner." Most people didn't get it, and those that did thought "Is that supposed to be comedy?"

What changed my mind about him was a documentary I saw in which he was on a mission to find the true provenance of a blue shirt supposedly worn by Elvis Presley and which he (Skinner) had bought at an auction. This programme showed a very interesting insight into the funnyman, as he displayed various emotions upon meeting some of the people who had lived and worked with Elvis, and upon finding out that the shirt might not after all be the genuine article. His soul was laid bare, and you couldn't help but feel empathy for the man.

So, now I'm reading his autobiography, the cunningly titled "Frank Skinner" by Frank Skinner. As I'm always saying in this blog, I love autobiographies. I don't just read biographies of people I like, I also like to read about people who I might find interesting, and very often I will start to feel an affinity towards that person.

However, with Frank, I started off thinking that I quite liked the guy, but the more and more I read the more I started to dislike him.

I don't mind his tales of his youth, growing up in a working class environment, the schools he attended, or the more recent things like how he felt when the whole of Wembley Stadium were singing along to "Three Lions" (the official England World Cup 1996 song which Skinner co-wrote along with David Baddiel and Ian Broudie from the Lightning Seeds).

I don't even mind him harping on endlessly about his love of football and in particular West Bromwich Albion. He's passionate about these things, and it makes interesting reading.

What I dislike is his bragging. For example:
Caroline likes the house. So she should at two million fucking quid! And yes, I think that did deserve an exclamation mark...
And :
I was with Caroline at a charity do for the Peter Cook Foundation. The guests included former Stones bassist Bill Wyman, and Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood. Ronnie's son's band provided the entertainment. The main event ended at about eleven but the band played on. Meanwhile, Caroline and I, hand-in-hand, went into the ladies' toilets and had fantastic bang-bang sex in one of the cubicles...
I mean... as to the former, does he really have to keep harping on about how much money he's got, how he's a classic rags to riches story, but that fame won't change him and he's still got his season ticket for West Bromwich Albion, blah blah blah? And so much money that he can say to a woman selling draw tickets outside the football ground that he's not interested because "I don't need the money."

He loves telling us about his money, but I can't help feeling that he should be more reserved when speaking about such matters. And as for telling us about the bang-bang sex he had with his girlfriend - who as he keeps reminding us is over 20 years his junior - well, do we really need to know this? It's boasting, pure and simple.

So, I'm afraid that Frank Skinner has slipped from the top of my Skinners chart which now reads like this:
  1. Principal Seymour Skinner from The Simpsons, Bart's headmaster and arch-nemesis.
  2. Assistant Director Skinner from The X Files, played by Mitch Pileggi and who I always thought had far more potential than Fox Mumbler... a pity that it's in the last two series that the character is coming into his own (and the current series will be the final one).
  3. Frank Skinner, still occasionally funny but getting too big for his boots.

posted by Gina Snowdoll 10:37 am [edit] 

Friday, July 19, 2002

Playing Guitar

This morning I've been having a bash on my old acoustic guitar. Well, I say "old" but it's what? Twelve years old? It's a really nice electro-acoustic guitar, an Aria, with a cut-away body style and a beautiful flamed top finished in a translucent red, which sunbursts out to a darker red around the cream-bound edges.

Quite a posh guitar, which new should have cost me over £550 even all those years ago, but which I got at 200 quid off because it was "shop soiled". This in actuality meant that there was a blob of dried gluey residue on the back of the guitar. I very carefully scraped this offending blob of whatever off so that the guitar was as good as a non shop-soiled model. Bargain or what?

I originally bought the guitar when I was trying to get the second of my various bands going. This band was called Naked Egg which was some literary reference that our singer and song-writer Ross came out with. He did explain it quite eloquently at the time, but I can't remember what the meaning was. I probably just grinned and nodded politely. I was just there to play guitar. In this second band I didn't want to be the driving force behind it as I had been in my first band, the terribly named Damn It Janet.

Yes, it was me who had to arrange everything in that first band. This ranged from things like deciding what songs we'd play, the order for songs at rehearsals, the look we should all adopt, etc, plus all the nastier things like booking the rehearsals which meant phoning the studio to see what slots were available, then phoning round each of the three other guys to see which of the times available they could make. Inevitably one or more of them would not be happy with my first suggestion, so I'd have to ring around them all again and work out compromises. And then I'd have to phone the studio guy back again, to say yea or neigh, or could we book this other session instead.

Then at the studio it was always me who had to get my chequebook out and pay for the studio time. It was never any of the others. The singer was always pretty good for his part of the cash; the bass player was usually short of money and occasionally had to owe me but was honest and always paid up in the end. The problem was the drummer, who was a tight-fisted git, and would frequently say "I'll give you the money next week". This would go on for weeks, until eventually (usually after we'd threatened to replace him with a drum machine) he'd give me what he had in his pockets at the time, which rarely paid for half of his share of a single studio session, let alone all those other times he hadn't paid up. ("I paid you last week, I remember.")

Anyway, I've been thrown right off the subject. I was always good at getting sidetracked.

Yeah, so in band number two, I wanted to take a back seat, just play guitar and let the other guys do all the organising. Ross - who sang and also played guitar - was quite a prolific songwriter, and his stuff was really good. He was a talented guy. But he was a hopeless organiser, so gradually the emphasis of whose band it was shifted from Ross to Yours Truly and Paul who played bass and other instruments.

Ross did try, gawd bless him, but he was too scatty to organise anything. He couldn't even keep to the same arrangement of a song for two weeks on end. We'd turn up at a rehearsal and find he'd deleted verses 3 and 4 of a certain song, or inserted new verses, changed the words here and there, completely altered the middle eight of a song, or had added a whole new intro. He was a nightmare! But a very talented nightmare, and I'd love to hear what he's done over the intervening years.

At one rehearsal, Paul and I turned up and found we'd acquired a violin player. A bit unexpected but an interesting idea. That was an example of the kind of thing Ross would do on the spur of the moment: just invite someone along to join the band without consulting the rest of us. As it was we liked Simon the violinist, so that was a good move. At another rehearsal we discovered that we now had a female second-vocalist. She was very good, and quite a promising addition to our sound, but we didn't see her again at subsequent rehearsals. I think Ross was just so vague about what we were doing that she didn't think there was any rigidity to the band.

The other problem with this band was also to do with rigidity. We were very fluid as to who did what. Roles within the band were quite blurred. Ross would sing and play guitar for the most part. But occasionally Paul would sing. Paul would also play bass for about half our songs, but on others he'd play acoustic guitar or even recorder (Scary!), whereas Simon would play violin mostly and bass guitar on a couple of the songs when Paul was not playing bass. I also played bass on two songs, and for the remainder of our tunes I was either playing electric or acoustic guitar. So, as things were getting more and more complicated instrument-wise with only Solomon the drummer staying put throughout, I was eventually having to take three guitars to rehearsal - a Fender electric, my above-mentioned Aria electro-acoustic, and a bass.

Sometimes I'd leave the bass at home, and just use Paul's bass, but I didn't really like his acoustic fretless so I preferred to have my own instrument. Also we needed to have at least two basses as there was a song that required Paul and Simon to both play bass parts, and if Simon hadn't brough HIS bass along, he'd need to borrow mine. It was a logistical nightmare. We should each have stuck to the one instrument and cut out all the chopping and changing.

Even with only two guitars it was a right pain getting to rehearsals on the bus! Yes, I really did this, but not if I was taking my VOX AC30 amp - that would have been impossible. If we decided we want the AC30 it meant that Paul would have to pick me and my gear up in his car. The poor car used to get so weighed down by all the gear that the back axle looked like it must've ben dragging along the road. But if I had to travel on the bus, I'd take my little practice amp and mic it up through the PA, which actually gave a really good sound.

One time I took four guitars with me. I must have been mad. The extra was a twelve-string acoustic, which sounded enormous with the acoustic sound going through the PA and the output from a soundhole-mounted electric pickup going into my AC30. It sounded like two guitars at once - electric and acoustic together. An amazing sound, but I didn't repeat the experiment as I decided that it was one guitar too many to cart about.

But as much as I look back on these things and moan about how awfully flaky, vague and indecisive Ross was when it came arrangements, planning, who's in the band this week, etc, I do envy his ability to come up with a bloody good tune and lyrics, then to write it all down and teach the song to the rest of us.

I'm always rather hopeless at writing stuff down that I - to use the rather grand word - compose. My usual method of composition is to noodle around on the guitar until I find myself playing something that sounds good, and then I'll just repeat it and repeat it until I hope that I've drummed it into my head.

This approach sometimes works, but more often than not I pick up the guitar, and think "How did that little tune (or riff) I worked out yesterday go now?" And can I remember?

So, sometimes I write down names of chords, or I draw little pictures of the guitar fingerboard to show left-hand fingerings. Unfortunately this is only half the story for I never found a way of transcribing what my right-hand is doing: the rhythm of the piece, how the guitar is picked or strummed, the parts I'm appregiating, etc. Also, back on the left hand, with chords I often add a note with my little finger or alter the chord by removing fingers as I play. I never really worked out a way of writing down that kind of information.

So, this morning I came out with a nice little chord progression that I could most likely work into a song, and it was played chugging along on a chord of E for a while (with a bit of E7, Em and Em7 chucked in) then an A, then back to the E chugging along, and then a G, D and back to E. Very simple stuff, and the names of the chords written down make it look childishly so, but my point is that there was so much going on in the way that my right hand picked the strings, and the way in which I mutated that E into an Em7 or whatever, and I just don't have a satisfactory way of writing that down. I can only hope that the next time I pick the guitar up I'll remember the style in which I played the riff; I can definitely remember the chord sequence, but the rhythm of the thing is something that I'll only remember through constant repetition.

As to writing lyrics. Well... that's a whole other story which I'll come back to another time.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 1:09 pm [edit] 

The Preseli Mountains, Pentre Ifan, and Nevern, Pembrokeshire

Mostly during my stay at my parents' here in Wales I've been spending time with my Mum. However, yesterday she had to work (she works one day a week) so my Dad took a day off work to spend with me. He asked me what I wanted to do, and I asked if we could take a little tour over the Preseli mountains.

Now anyone who knows me from my old website or can remember the article I wrote a few years ago for the Tranny Guide will remember the now legendary photos of me glammed up and on top of the Preselis in a devorre dress and stilettos. Those photos were taken in 1998 (I think) by Sherri when we both spent a summer down here. I just thought it would be fun to pose for some pictures, mountain climbing in high heels!

But the Preseli mountains have always been special to me. They seem so remote, although in reality civilisation is never very far away. They are quite bleak - hardly any trees in areas, just grassy shrubland with boulders dotted around liberally. Sometimes these rocks have been built into great mounds as memorials, or occasionally I suspect because a farmer was trying to clear a field of rocks, and just piled them all in a heap. Mind, having said that, I can't imagine the ground would be good for much, which is mainly why there are so many sheep all over the Preselis; it's the only form of farming that is viable on that kind of terrain.

You used to see wild ponies also, although we encountered none yesterday.

So, we drove up over the Preselis and went to visit an ancient monument - supposedly a burial chamber - called Pentre Ifan. I hadn't been there since I was 5 or 6 years old. I remember going with my old Nana, and there is a photo with me in the background "hiding" behind one of the standing stones.

At the centre of this monument are several upright stones, and a great big capstone lying horizontally across the top and resting on mere knife-edge points of three of the standing stones. Looking up close you can see that the actual area where the stones meet is quite miniscule and it's a wonder that the thing has stayed up all these years. But it's obviously quite rigid or else it wouldn't have lasted... I don't know how long.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a television programme on BBC2 exploring the landscape of Pembrokeshire. It was awful as the co-called "historians" interviewed did not have a clue what they were talking about, and this was being passed off as a factual documentary programme on national television. One such bod was commenting that he thought that the ancients had erected Pentre Ifan because it was aesthetically pleasing and fitted in with the surrounding landscape. What rot! And then the programme totally contradicted him by showing a computer animation in which they illustrated how the structure might have been covered in a mound of earth, as some kind of barrow. I'm not so sure about this. How would they know? Besides which there is obviously an enormous mound beneath the existing standing stones. Are they suggesting a two-tiered mound?

I really do think Pentre Ifan is well worth a visit. Although it is quite a small monument, it hasn't been messed around with like the more famous standing stones of Avebury or Stonehenge which have been mercilessly moved around and re-arranged.

From here we went on the 6th Century Church of St Brynach in Nevern, which was but a five minute ride away, and quite interesting historically. In the church yard stands the famed Great Cross, a near-perfect early British artifact. (Note how I don't say "Celtic" here. I firmly believe that the Celts never came to Britain, and that the Celts and the Welsh are separate peoples. This whole Celts in Britain thing is the perverted and warped version of history. But I don't want to go into that too deeply here. Please email me if you feel the need to discuss this further).

Also in the churchyard is an avenue of twisted yew trees, including the Bleeding Yew. I remember being taken to see this when I was about eight years old, when we were attending an agricultural show which was being held in the adjacent field. I remember relating the tale with much glee to my late brother of how the tree oozes blood because someone was hanged there many years ago. I may even have elaborated and said that Jesus himself had been nailed to the tree. I have a dim memory that I might have said that. Nevertheless the tree does appear to be bleeding and has a great red stained patch where the "blood" has dried over the years. In reality this blood which still oozes out stickily, is the red sap of the tree. Still, I was reminded of the weeping statues and bleeding figurines, and so forth that you hear of in magazines such as The Fortean Times.

Inside the church there are a couple of interesting stones. One is inscribed in Latin (suposedly, although it's far more likely that his is the Ancient British Alphabet) and also in ogham (again, this might have been mis-identified).

The other stone is known as the Cross Stone, and as the Nevern Church guidebook says:
This slab is 62 inches long by 12 inches wide. It bears a cross in slight relief which has some unusual features.

At the base there are two cords, or ribbons, which run parallel to each other for about one foot and then diverge for a similar distance. Near the base each cord has a short branch shooting upward on its right side. The meaning of this digression is not known. At two feet the cords divide. This treatment, of two cords growing out of one, is not usual in early work and would alone suggest an advanced date. From the four cords a knot is formed in a manner unusual and altogether different from the character of the ornament commonly met with on Celtic (sic) crosses.

Above the knot the four cords reunite into two, intersect, and then continue upwards to frame the large triangular head, within which there is a triquetrous, or three stemmed ornament.

The cross-arms end in triangular patterns which are similar to, but smaller than, the head. The arms are formed by a separate cord which interlaces with the cords of the main stem.
My Dad pointed out to me that to him it was quite clearly a representation of the body of a man - Christ - and was amazed that no-one else had ever put forward that theory in all the literature he'd ever seen on the subject. Indeed this would explain why the cords diverge on the "legs" of the cross - indicating the tibia and fibula bones in our lower legs. My Dad pointed out the knees on the legs, parts of stone actaully being raised and bulbous just as if portrayting kneecaps. As to the head and the folded arms - these are obvious. Note also how the above quoted extract referred to the "head" and "arms", but without realising the probable truth behind the personification.

After the church we walked up the road around the corner for a little way and found the Pilgrim's Cross that is set into - supposedly - the rockface. But is it really a rockface? My historian uncle (Dad's brother) has suggsted - to much controversy - that it's actually a bricked up cave entrance behind which is the ... (No, I've said too much already...!)

All very interesting. Nice to have one of those cultural days out!

(Will add some photos to this article when I'm back home).
posted by Gina Snowdoll 1:08 pm [edit] 

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Oh yes... I haven't really had much time for blogging the past couple of days (although I managed to write the Douglas Adams review offline this morning), but today is the first day of The New Me.

I'll explain more. Later.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 5:34 pm [edit] 

Douglas Adams - The Salmon Of Doubt

I admit, I approached this book with some trepidation. I wasn't entirely at ease with the concept of a publisher going through a dead man's hard-drive in order to squeeze one last book out of him. I mean, a man's hard-drive! Surely, that's sacrosanct? I don't mean in any twisted nasty Gary Glitter kind of way, but it seems akin to reading someone's private diary. But still, the project appears to have had the blessing of Adams' wife, so you have to say to yourself, "Well, if she's OK with it..."

Also, I was intrigued. I mean, here was that final Douglas Adams book. Did I really want to miss out? A half-price offer for the hardback on Amazon made my mind up for me.

What we have here in this tome is a collection of articles, short stories and lecture notes by the late Mr Adams, some of which have seen publication previously, some of which haven't. These are accompanied by interviews with the man himself and various other odd bits and pieces.

The biographical essays (The Voices of All Our Yesterdays and Brentwood School) I enjoyed enormously, but then I was always a sucker for real-life anecdotes and biographical story-telling.

Other pieces such as Y, My Nose, and Maggie and Trudy are positively blog-like and I can imagine that the man with the intials DNA would have approved wholeheartedly of this whole blogging phenomenon in which some of us engage, whilst Unfinished Business of the Century is brillantly funny and I wish I'd thought of it, because had I included it in my bog no doubt you'd all think I was very clever and al sorts of people would link to me, and fame and fortune would be assured, and... (well, perhaps not).

Some of the pieces from computer magazine I found to be a bit nerdy, a bit "techy spod" like, and could have done without, although I am reminded that Adams was a man with enormous enthusiasm for technology. Unfortunately, his vision was one in which we would use computers and technology to enrich our lives, but from what I can see things like the internet and mobile phone technology (text messaging, etc) only encourage a dumbing-down of society. (Just look at the way in which things like the use of the English Language, spelling and punctuation has deteriorated in recent years. It's as if we are a nation of illiterates.)

Other pieces I enjoyed were Riding The Rays, which was the story of a trip to the Great Barrier Reef on a rather absurd and unlikely-sounding magazine article writing mission, and Interview, American Atheists in which Adams made some undeniably solid points about his nature of belief - or rather disbelief - which I found myself agreeing to. (Yes... YES! He's exactly right!) However, I did feel that the interviewer was in over his (or her) head with Adams as interview subject. It may have been more rewarding to have a record of Adams debating with someone of opposing beliefs, but someone who could be equally erudite in their arguments.

Adams speaks further on his atheism in Is There An Artificial God? but this piece is too lengthy and too convoluted for me, at least, to appreciate. Instead it just irritated, which is most likely a shortcoming of my own and not of the author's.

The two short stories culled from "The Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book" (The Private Life of Genghis Khan and Young Zaphod Plays It Safe) were both unfortuantely B-grade Douglas Adams material. Both started out promisingly and wittily enough, but soon petered out into one-joke Alas Smith and Jones (or - dare I say it - Hale and Pace) style TV sketch show fodder.

The final section of the book contained the unfinished Dirk Gently novel The Salmon Of Doubt, and unfinished is definitely the operative word here. Although the chapters presented here have been selected from a myriad of versions of the book, no atempt has been made to introduce any continuity between the disparate sections, or to tie things up at the end or even hint at where the story might be going. Try reading a book - any book - about a quarter of the way through and then toss it out the window. Don't finish it. You get much the same effect reading this.

You get a mere snapshot of a novel in progress. View it as if you are reading "A Day in the Life of Dirk Gently" and you'll be alright because whilst it is entertaining it will ultimately be unfulfilling because the story isn't going to go anywhere. You can only guess what might happen next. Who knows, perhaps Adams himself didn't know where the story was going?... not until he got there himself.

The concept of DaveLand in the first chaper was very interesting and is pure Douglas Adams in style, but it was frustrating as this did not link into any of the other chapters presented here, and so must sit alone - an unfinished and unexplained concept in an unfinished book.

A great book for lovers of Douglas Adams' prose, humour, wit and wisdom. But a sad book also, and unfulfilling.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 5:28 pm [edit] 

Saturday, July 13, 2002

By the way, I'm still here... just waiting for Mum and Dad to arrive, then after a quick bite to eat and a cup of coffee we'll be going up north to my sister's.

I will try to update the blog occasionally while I'm away. Yes, they do have the internet in Wales (which is where I'll be come Monday). Updates will not be as frequent, so don't be surprised if I skip a day or two.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:15 am [edit] 

The Damned at Shepherd's Bush Empire, 11th July 2002

Excellent gig. Pity I spent most of it wandering around looking for my friend Annie who'd gone AWOL. Never mind, we found each other at the end, and at least on our way in I was able to introduce her to the good Captain (she's been asking when will I introduce her to him for years). Nice to bump into Al Fiendish, and Stimpy and Twinkle too (the good peeps from the Damned message board). I think I'll have to drop Stimpy and Twinkle a line sometime, as they are active on the London Fetish scene, and it could be fun to go out with them insterad of doing all the regular tranny venues.

Anyway, what a blinder of a gig! Band all dressed in tropical garb, and the stage set was made up with voodoo masks, palm trees, an Easter Island stone head, etc. Good to hear songs such as "Street of Dreams", "Under the Floor Again" and "Ignite" live. I can't wait to buy the video! The cameras very much in attendence. And Patricia on bass, in her sexy gothic garb, bosom a-heaving! What a little poser! She's going to look great on the video.

Unfortunately Brian James did not join the line-up for "New Rose", although he did come out on stage and take a round of applause, and hugs from Dave and Captain. The Brian James Gang did the encore slot; first time I've ever seen a support band play two of the same songs that the main act were to play in their set, i.e. "New Rose" and "Neat Neat Neat". Well... Brian did write them after all, so he's entitled.

I wonder if I was the only person who was sad enough to think that the Gorilla playing drums on "Smash it Up" might have his mask ripped off to reveal... someone else? (This is possibly meaningless to anyone who doesn't follow The Damned. Sorry.)

Lovely to run into Louisa and Becci again, who were in bikinis and garlands of flowers, and who joined Captain on stage for a quickie rendition of "Happy Talk" backed by Monty on keyboards. What a shame dear ol' TinTin couldn't make it this time! I spoke to her on the phone lunchtime yesterday and the poor thing is ill. Awwwww... get well soon Tinlets!
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:12 am [edit] 

Friday, July 12, 2002

Nearly there...

It's my last day at work today, before I take two lovely weeks off! Hurrah! I'm just finishing off a few bits and pieces here in the office. I've been making sure the company website is as up-to-date as possible before I go, and have been tidying up the HTML and leaving lots of comments in the code so if someone does have to change anything in my absence it should be easy.

So, on the one hand I'm winding down and on the other it's going to be a hectic weekend for me. I'm leaving work early tonight, getting the train into London, meeting Annie, and off to Shepherd's Bush Empire to see The Damned. It's going to be a great gig. Apparently it's going to be filmed - there'll be six cameras including one flying over the audience (!) - and the idea is to release the footage on video and DVD next year. Also, it's rumoured that the support act is The Brian James Gang, and of course Brian James was the original Damned guitarist so it's possible that he'll strap on a guitar for a few songs with the current Damned line-up.

Then after the gig (and much mayhem, I shouldn't wonder), I'll train it back home, get up early in morning, pack my bags, make sandwiches (might need to go to Tesco first in order to get this bit done), and then await the arrival of Mum and Dad. Then after they've had half an hour's rest, we'll all get in the car and whizz on up to Cheshire to my sister's house.

On Sunday my sis and and her husband are having a 40th birthday party (they are only 2 days apart). And on Monday, I'll go back with Mum and Dad to Wales, stay there for a WEEK, and RELAX.

Looking forward to it immensely.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 10:00 am [edit] 

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Sometimes I see a link over there on the Random Blog Snob thing, and I think Oh that sounds interesting, so I click through and am confronted by a blog written in a tiny font and entirely in lower case.

It really is too much effort to read such badly presented text, so upon encountering such a website my initial reaction is to press the BACK key on my browser.

I wish people would put more thought into their text presentation. Some of these blogs are beautifully designed, but rendered useless by bad text presentation. Having the right colour (or image - preferably lack of) behind your text is also essential. As you can see, I'm keen on the minimalist look. I like black text on a white background. It's clean and easily readable. I'm very suspicious of websites that confront you with bells and whistles and all manner of cunning design. They are usually trying to hide something. Like the lack of any real content.

Ditch the gimmicks, cut the crap, present your text clearly and let's see what you have to say.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 7:15 pm [edit] 

Earlier this year, before the file-sharing was suspended on AudioGalaxy, I decided to make a 1970s compilation of tunes that we used to have on singles when I was a kid, songs that I remember being on Top Of The Pops, and general 70s nostalgia. My original idea was to make a CD-R of all my favourite bits. I initially thought I'd have trouble filling up an 80 minute disc, but I ended up with three volumes!

Then I thought I'd do the same thing for the 1980s. I made one volume, and then ran out of ideas for other tunes I could include (I was deliberately not including songs I already have on CD, so that excluded lots of songs by Blondie, Adam and Ants, The Damned, etc).

It think it was in the 1980s that I decided that it was better to find your own way through the musical maze, and ignore the stuff that Radio 1 and their ilk tried to force feed you. Well, that's not entirely true, because I would tune into John Peel almost nightly (Monday - Thursday at 10-12p.m.), as he was the only guy playing interesting stuff.

One musical style I really got heavily into during the early 1980s was Reggae, especially the output of a UK-based label called Greensleeves, whose roster of artists included such forgotten legends as Clint Eastwood and General Saint, Eeek-A-Mouse and Yellowman. I remember in 1984 (I think it was) persuading a bunch of my mates that it would be well cool to go see a Yellowman gig at Oxford Poly. They loved it. I seem to recall I was sitting on the stage at the end of the gig, possibly half high on second-hand ganja smoke. I don't recall much of the gig, except that it was high energy, everyone dancing, and my mate Wolfie complaining that the bass was making his eyeballs rattle! Oh, and the enigmatic Yellowman himself, a master of the DJ "toasting" style, who was also able to turn his talents to passable impressions of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.

Tonight in the post I found a CD-R from my friend Mark, containing copies of a couple of my vinyl albums of Clint Eastwood and General Saint: "Two Bad DJ" and "Stop That Train". Both very fine albums, the first of which I am listening to right now and basking in nostalgia! I must ask him to copy me some of my other Greensleeves albums. I could so easily get back into this music again.

Additional: A quick search on the web tells me that Greensleeves Records are still going, and indeed celebrated their 25th anniversary last year. Wow!
posted by Gina Snowdoll 5:51 pm [edit] 

At last! Basic Human Rights for Transsexuals in the UK

There's big news on the transgender front here in the UK today, as the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg have ruled that British transsexual Christine Goodwin should be legally recognised as a woman and allowed to marry.

"So what?" some of you may be saying. Well, this is a first in backward Britain, which is one of only four countries in the council of Europe - along with Ireland, Andorra and Albania - which does not recognise a sex change as legally valid.

Transsexual people have enough on their plates without having the law of the land against them too. It is a basic human right to be allowed to be yourself, and it must take tremendous strength of character to say "This is not how things are meant to be; I need to put things right" and to go through the never-ending battle of gender reassignment. Believe me, it ain't for the faint-hearted, as I'm sure many of my TS friends could express in far more eloquent terms than I ever could.

Story on the BBC News website, here.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 2:42 pm [edit] 

I was a bit stressed out yesterday, which is why I didn't blog. Actually, making the decision that I wouldn't blog was a great weight off my mind, for I had enough to worry about as it was without wondering what on Earth I could write about for the day's installment.

So I didn't write anything.

Well, actually later on I very nearly posted a link to that amusing story about the shriekings of amourous hedgehogs causing panic and alarm in Germany, but by then Blogger was playing up again, so I didn't post it.

So, you missed out there. It was a great story.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What?

You want the link anyway?

Oh, go on then. Seeing as it's you.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 8:14 am [edit] 

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

How well do you know your vegetables? asks this Guardian quiz. (I nicked this link from Terry's blog.)

Wa-hey! I scored 9 out of 10 (If knowing your vegetables were a martial art, you would be a black belt. Well done. You do know that other food groups are important too, don't you?)

Wow! 9 out of 10! In yer face, Terry!!! (Ooh, sorry, I appear to have gone into Lleyton Hewitt mode).

It all seemed pretty obvious to me; the only one that foxed me was the second one (the chinese courgette thingy).
posted by Gina Snowdoll 8:43 am [edit] 

I don't know why, in Britain, we expect anymore that we are going to have summery weather during summer. It's July, supposedly the height of summer, and it's pissing it down. Good weather for ducks. And umbrella manufacturers!

I was thinking about the definition of an umbrella earlier.
ùmbrè'lla n. 1. Large rain hat on a stick for those who don't want to mess up their hair. 2. Golf ~, Unfeasibly large umbrella, as carried by the pig ignorant in an effort to piss off everyone else they may encounter on the pavement.
What is it with people who carry golf umbrellas? They seem to have the same philosophy as Italian drivers: "Everybody get out of the way! I'm coming through."

(And, whilst we're on the subject, what is the deal with Italian drivers? Do they not actually have a driving test in Italy? I know they are renowned as being laid back in Italy, but I think just letting anyone who wants to drive a car just go ahead and do it is making things a little too relaxed.)
posted by Gina Snowdoll 8:22 am [edit] 

Monday, July 08, 2002

Deer of the Week: The Babycham DeerYEAH!!!! I'LL HAVE A BABYCHAM (to be said in a baritone)
Does anyone actually ever drink this vile muck? It's sort of cheap sickly sweet champagne-esque fizzy wine. Very 1970s.

I can't imagine going into a pub and ordering one of these; I'd feel a right prat. Nevertheless they based a whole ad campaign around that very notion.
("YEAH!!!! I'LL HAVE A BABYCHAM" says big black tough guy. Yeah, right. Not unless he was being ironic.)

YEAH!!!! I'LL HAVE A BABYCHAM (to be said in a baritone)

And how about these gorgeous Babycham glasses? Tasteful, eh?

You can buy items such as this and various other pieces of tat (it's kitsch, darling!) from this rather bizarre on-line store.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:14 am [edit] 

Sunday, July 07, 2002

I want to record here a few words about sport. Now, as you might already know, I am no lover of sports. However, I really do hope that Lleyton Hewitt does not win the Men's Final at the Wimbledon tennis tournament this afternoon. I'm not saying this because he beat HEN-MAN (to be said as if you are announcing the prophetic arrival of a super-hero) last Friday. Oh no, no... it was just his reaction when he scored that winning goal or whatever it is that you call it in tennis.

What a bad winner! He was hardly magnaminous in victory. Indeed, his snarling face, and the way he gestured at his opponent seemed to be really mocking. He may as well have yelled, "In your face, Henman!"

What a nasty piece of work. That's why I don't want him to win. And I always thought that Australians were such nice people.

And what of the recently ended World Cup football whatsit? Did you notice how 95% of the people who had been Oh So Interested in watching this event, bunking off work, etc, lost all interest as soon as England were out of the running? These people aren't sports fans. If they were genuine football fanatics they would have kept up the interest until the final, irrespective of who was playing. Truth is, that most sports fans are not very sporting at all. "If my team doesn't win, I don't want to know" seems to be the attitude. Sorry, but I just don't get it. How can anyone claim to follow sports with an attitude like that?

On the other side of the coin, there are those people who still even now have their St George's Cross flag hanging out the windows of their homes and attached to the aerials of their cars and vans, well after England were out of the picture and indeed after the whole tournament is well and truly over. These are the same people who keep those Oh So Amusing red noses on their cars years after the last Comic Relief event. ("I paid good money for this nose, I'll have you know, so I'm keeping it on there...")

No doubt if you were to go into the home of one of these people, you'd find old birthday cards on the mantlepiece, and last year's Christmas decorations still up.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 12:35 pm [edit] 

So, yesterday turned out quite good in the end. (And yes I know, I'm going into diary mode again. Nevertheless...) I went into Oxford for my hair appointment, which took ages but I was in no hurry and quite happy being pampered. Came out with it very red, although more coppery than fire engine. I did get the hairdresser to re-do bits and pieces, but I don't think I was too much of a pain, and I gave her a generous tip at the end, so she shouldn't have had any cause for complaint.

Speaking of which allows me to break out of diary mode. Oh yes! I'm very clever like that. What do you guys out there reckon to tipping? Do you tip? Who do you tip? And how much?

I have to admit that I am not a good tipper. I'm not mean, but I think the whole tipping thing can get out of hand, and that it should not be expected. I never get tipped in my job, so why should they? Well, OK, I don't work in public service, but I do often feel resentful about these perks that some professions seem to expect.

I will tip:
  • At restaurants. Proper restaurants, that is, not cafes or snack bars or whatever. It has to have been for a proper sit down meal, with waiter or waitress service. And I don't believe in tipping anything if the service has been bad. That's the only way they will learn. "Oh, did I do something wrong?" Even so, a 10% tip is ample. I'm not made of money.


  • In taxis... if it's not a short local journey as tipping in that case would make it very expensive. Unless I just say to the driver to keep the change, as sometime it seems churlish to wait for it. However, I don't work on any percentage rate when it comes to tipping in taxis. I just go by whatever I have available on me, a pound coin or two, or possibly the balance of say a twenty pound note on those more expensive trips.


  • At the hairdressers. I usually tip quite well at the hairdressers. The service is obviously very personal, and if I'm pleased with the way my hair turns out then I think it's only fair to reward the person responsible.

I don't like this business of bar staff in clubs expecting a tip. That annoys me, the way they present your change to you on a little tray, hoping that you'll leave it there for them. "Stuff that," I always think. "At these prices for a round of drinks! And you want a TIP on top of that? You've gotta be joking!" (And yes, before any of you trannies out there ask, I am thinking of The WayOut Club in particular. Hell, if that's the case then someone should tip ME for looking fabulous.)

In America they tip like they are possessed. If at a bar someone buys a beer, it's expected that they tip for that, and usually throw an extra dollar the bar-tender's way. And they tip more at restaurants, etc. We often work on this 10% formula, but Americans will think 15% or 20% more appropriate. I've seen Americans actually get out calculators at the end of a meal so that they can work out what the tip should be. I've heard Americans ask if they should tip when buying a beer in a pub, and we're all saying "Noooo, put your money away, this is Britain. Although, having said that, it is customary to tip your drinking buddies..."

Anyway, because I've been off at a tangent on this whole tipping thing, I think you can allow me to slip back into diary mode again.

After the hairdressers I had to do some shopping. Clothes shopping. Unfortunately, not fabulous clothes shopping. No gorgeous gowns and sexy stilettos for me today. No I needed a pair of jeans (black, because I do not under any circumstances do blue jeans) and a pair of everyday boots. I found the former item in a shop called Mad House. I got them for a tenner in the sale, which I was quite pleased at. I wasn't quite so pleased about having to queue for ages due to there only being one person working the tills. This was made especially irksome by the terrible music that was being played at quite high volume. I don't know what it was, what genre even. Some kind of "drum and bass" or "garage" or something. I don't know the modern terminology for such musics. I do know that it was dire. And I used to quite like drum and bass too (or at least, what I'd heard of it), but this stuff was crap and intensely annoying.

Anyway, having survived that experience I went and found a pair of boots. Not much to tell there, as we're just taking about ordinary boots here. Except to say that the staff in the shoe shop were very hepful. I had four different assistants come and ask if they could help me, when I was already being seen to. Wow! I mean, in the past I've walked out of shoe shops because I couldn't get anyone's attention. And also, if you're in guy mode and you're trying to catch an assistant's eye when you want to buy a pair of high heels, that can be awkward, as they tend to ignore you I suppose thinking that you must just be waiting there with some female friend. I always find in those situations it's best to pick up one of the shoes you want and go grab an assistant. Be totally up-front about it. Mind, I can't remember the last time I actually bought a pair of heels from a shoe shop now (well, other than the pair I bought in Next at new year, but that was different - you help yourself to a pair and take them to the check out). This is because I usually buy from the internet these days.

So... after shoe shopping, I had a cup of coffee in the little coffee bar at Carfax, and marvelled at the cheek of the pigeons that quite happily wondered in looking for scraps of food.

Then I went to Gloucester Green and into The Goose and had a Guinness and glanced at The Guardian whilst waiting for Gillian. (Look at all those Gs in close proximity - that's almost alliterative). She soon appearred, as did a big party of girls out on a hen night. We could hardly hear each other above the shrieking, so we had the next drink in the Old School which is another pub on Gloucester Green. After this we repaired to Gino's which is a gorgeous little Italian restaurant just a couple of doors away from the Old School.

Gino's was really busy, but the atmosphere was warm and friendly, not boisterous and oppressive as I had found the first pub to be for example. There were couples having meals together, groups of friends, whole families including little kids. All very italian, I thought. It was a really pleasant atmosphere. A really lovely restaurant, and who'd have thought it, what with it being situated right next to the bus station?

And the food? Exquisite. We both had Gino's speciality for starters - the mussels. These are divine! I've had mussels in a few places, but nowhere beats Gino's. You get a great big bowl of them, plus another bowl to put the shells in, and they are cooked in this exquisite sauce. (Am I allowed to say exquisite again?) We were trying to work out just what was in the sauce. We thought that we could detect garlic, onions, tomato, cream and white wine. And something else perhaps?

Then for main course Gillian had gnocci - those little potato pasta-y thingies (looked very nice), whilst I had Swordfish "Livornese", which was ... Oh no, I really can't use the 'E' word again, can I?

And during all this we were drinking a bottle of Frascati, which seemed to go on forever. Which was unusual, as in my experience bottles of wine seem to run out far too quickly.

After a couple of coffees we walked to the station and bade each other farewell. Luckily my homeward-bound train appeared almost immediately and soon I was in front of the telly, with another glass of wine in my hand, my cat at my side, and watching a video of Billy Connolly - a perfect way in which to round off the day.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 10:01 am [edit] 

Saturday, July 06, 2002

I wish someone would hurry up and invent guitar-proof nail varnish. Indeed, some of us guitarists want to have fabulous fingernails too! (Did you like that? Us guitarists? As if to say Hey! I'm a musician!) But a set of six steel strings is a notorious nail varnish remover - just slices the varnish off and leaves your partially-painted nails looking tatty. Grrrrrr...

So, does anyone have any recommendations for hard-wearing nail varnish? Preferably not something that takes hours to dry and turns you into an invalid who can't use their hands for an evening. Has anyone out there ever tried doing simple things - like putting the kettle on, making toast, or even going to the lavatory - having recently applied nail varnish that JUST WILL NOT DRY?

Also, I'd want a varnish that is easy to remove when I want to take it off. Some varnishes I've tried you practically need to chisel it off afterwards.

So, in summary, please will someone invent for me a quick drying, hard-wearing (especially withstandable to guitar playing), but easily-removeable-when-required nail varnish in a range of fabulous colours?

Then I'll be happy.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 11:44 am [edit] 

So what shoes am I going to buy this afternoon? Party platforms with transparent soles and an impossibly high heel? Strappy sandals for tripping about in? Silly stilettos or elegant courts?

Well, alas, none of the above. For I need to buy an everyday pair of boots. My current pair are just about worn out. I've worn right through the sole; the damn things were letting in water. When you start getting soggy feet, you know it's time to bin your footwear and get another pair.

Unfortunately I am extremely hard-wearing on shoes and boots. I absolutely demolish them. I used to have a pair of those really high-tech looking and totally trendy New Rock boots. They had great big thick soles, which I liked (being so accustomed to heels and platforms). I thought New Rock boots were supposedly indestructible (or so people had told me) but within 6 months I had totally destroyed my pair. That's what comes of wearing them day-in day-out and tramping here there and everywhere in them.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 11:08 am [edit] 

I'm desperately trying to not allow this blog to become a mere on-line diary. Sometimes I catch myself going into diary-mode, just talking about the mundane stuff that makes up my day. And it's something I don't want to do with this weblog. It is NOT a diary. It's not really a journal either. Or is it? I can't remember the definitions now.

My aims as to what I write here are quite simple, and don't really follow a set of guidelines. Basically I just write about whatever I want to, whenever I want to. So, it's not a diary, because I might write about someting I read in the paper, or I'll link to a story on the BBC News website, or write about something that happened to me as a child at schol, or something that happened to me several years ago in a transvestite bar in Soho...

Alternatively I can write reviews or just general raves about CDs and books that I enjoy. And I frequently do.

It is quite simply just what's buzzing around my head at any given moment. But naturally, sometimes what I'm thinking about is what I'm currently doing (which does really help you get through life, otherwise you'd get in a fair old mess). So, I do occasionally end up writing about the day's events in my life. The trick is to try to give these a twist so that what is being written is actually going to be of interest to the readers of my weblog.

So, I was going to write that today I've got a hair appointment in Oxford in the afternoon, and that I'll most likely have it cut short and spiky. And coloured red again. And that after that I'm going to do a little shopping, then go wait for Gillian in The Goose (which is a pub and not a large bird... The very notion of waiting for someone inside a large bird is a bit silly, so don't even go there, OK?), and that we had been discussing going on to somewhere else for a meal - possibly Gino's the italian restaurant on Gloucester Green.

BUT... as this isn't a diary, I'm not going to tell you any of those things.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:45 am [edit] 

Last night's Friday Night With Ross and Bowie on BBC1 was superb. Dave (if I may call him Dave - I'm sure he wouldn't mind) had his whole band with him and together they performed a whole four songs including two from the current album Heathen: "Fashion", "Slip Away", "Everyone Says Hi" and "Ziggy Stardust". I was in heaven!

Interview-wise, it wasn't the best interview I've seen with Bowie, but it was quite entertaining, especially when Bowie and Ross both got their stylophones out, and Ross gave his stylophone holster - complete with picture of Rolf Harris - to Bowie as a present. A cringeworthy moment came when Ross asked about Bowie's sexuality - yes, that old chestnut again - and Bowie very eloquently and quite wittily declined to be drawn out on the subject.

I'm reminded of the time Bowie appeared on Chris Evans' TFI Friday... Bowie made complete mincemeat of the normally irreverant Evans. It was so funny and I wish I had a copy on videotape.

However, I video-taped the programme this time. Now I have to work out how to connect the audio output of the video to my computer so I can make MP3s (and burn CD-Rs) from those songs performed on the show. I think I'd better find my bag of leads, see what I've got.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:30 am [edit] 

Friday, July 05, 2002

So, thankfully the rain went away and I was able to get out of the house, and go do a few chores (bank, shopping). At the market outside Somerfield there was a stall selling batteries and I noticed this fellow had a few of the very elusive PP9 batteries for sale, so I grabbed a couple.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I've been putting together this little guitar package for my little nephew. I'd got a cute little three quarter size guitar from off eBay - it's like a Stratocaster in miniature. I saw it and thought to myself, I know who'd like that. So, I won the auction, paid the cash, received the guitar and then realised of course that I'd have to get all the accessories to go with it (plus I need to re-set the intonation and replace the machine heads at extra expense because they were crap). My local guitar shop (Baby John's) supplied me with things like a strap, lead, new strings, etc. As for the amp, well I turned to eBay again and ended up with this little busker's amplifier, that looks like it's been made from a kit. And it takes PP9 batteries. Which are a right pain to get hold of these days.

Anyway, I ended up getting a battery off the internet (http://www.cellpacksolutions.com). Yes, a battery. Singular. I'd meant to order two but messed up. Grrrr... But - Hurrah for the man on the market. I've now got a couple of spares too.

Also while I was in town I found myself with a sudden craving for fish and chips, so I made a trip to the chippy too, which is unusual for me as I only usually have sandwiches for lunch.

Which means toast tonight for evening meal, most likely.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 5:24 pm [edit] 

Aarrrrggghh! It's tipping it down with rain outside, and I wanted to go to the bank and to get a little shopping. The road outside my front door is like a river. Will have to wait until later, and just hope that it clears up.

Yes, I did stay at home today. Seriously, yesterday's events really spooked, depressed and upset me. Then last night I was watching an episode of the latest and final season of The X Files, and it was a story abut a killer who could slip between parallel worlds, and there was old Doggett in two places at once. The alternate universe version of him had switched places with the "our world" Doggett and was in a critical condition on a life-support machine, and the only way to bring back the healthy Doggett who belonged in this dimension was to pull the plug on the alternate version of the man. All quite tense stuff towards the end.

But it got me thinking. Perhaps yesterday afternoon I slipped into a parallel world where everyone was really nasty, full of hate and not afraid of showing it? It certainly felt like that; like there was something very wrong. It felt like I was outside of my usual realm, like I was viewing what happened to me as if it was happening to another person. It was almost as if my repeating the trip to and from work a second time broke some kind of pattern and threw my personal world into chaos.

It might sound to you like I'm talking rubbish, but I felt that there was something very wrong about yesterday, something very wrong in my personal universe. I'm not normaly superstitious, but I decided that today I was taking no chances.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 11:49 am [edit] 

Time for another one of those strange Google searches that somehow, through the weird science of search engine programming, end up at this blog of mine. Someone has been looking for a swirly toilet picture.

Of course they have! Wouldn't you?
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:00 am [edit] 

Thursday, July 04, 2002

How weird is that? I've just checked that Guardian link, and it actually links through to one of the archived pages of this blog and not to the current page. I wish they hadn't linked to an archive page (and have emailed them to tell them so). I'd rather new visitors to my blog came in here, to the current page (unless you are reading this in an archive at some future date, which is just the kind of Smart Alec comment that Angus Deayton would come out with).

The link is to my very first month of blogging, back in March 2001. But as I was saying, there's one of those weird coincidence things going on here (cue Twilight Zone theme music). Just click through and read that first entry. Which sounds awfully similar to the altercation at the station that I described earlier today. Spooky!
posted by Gina Snowdoll 7:57 pm [edit] 

Whoops! I'd better wipe away those tears, and tidy up the eyeliner... I've been linked to from The Guardian's weblog special!

(Puts on posh voice...) Hello and welcome dear Guardian readers (that took me 5 attempts to type correctly, by the way), my name is Gina and I'm a transgendered person living and working in lovely Oxfordshire. In my spare time I collect high heeled shoes of fabulous design, play incredibly noisy electric guitar and...

Oh, to hell with all this sucking up malarkey. I'm going to go and make my tea and see what's on telly.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 6:24 pm [edit] 

Come on guys. I am actually feeling a bit down, and in need of sympathy. Yes, I half joked about my shite day in the previous posting, but I have to joke or else I'll break down and cry.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 6:08 pm [edit] 

A Hell Of A Day

First I woke up far too early at 6:00am feeling like death. I tried to get back to sleep again, dozed off and had an interesting dream about someone who I hadn't previously realised that I was attracted to in real life. Then at 7:10 the alarm went off and I had to get up for real; was rushing about as usual when I remembered I needed to lug the guitar I sold on eBay into the office so I could weigh it on the franking machine scales (as the buyer was contesting the amount I'd quoted for post and packing). So, off I trolled to the station lugging the guitar with me. Got to work, and the internet connection was still down (we were in the process of changing IP addresses and our service provider was making a right melodrama of the whole thing).

Our IT bod got the email working temporarily using an old modem (rather than our ADSL connection) and I picked up a mail I should have received yesterday from our American office asking me to put a note on our website to say that the Technical Support Desk would be closed because of the 4th of July holiday.

I needed to get this done before America woke up, and there was no way I was going to be able to FTP files across from the office, so I went back home - all the way to Didcot - and did the work from there so that the message would have been visible as of 6:30 EST for those in the USA. Then I went back into work again, getting back to the office for 1:00pm. I felt shattered. It'd taken me two and a half hours to go back home, put a single sentence onto our website and return to work. But then again, my home is a good mile from Didcot station, so there was a fair bit of walking involved, not to mention waiting for trains.

Felt like shit all afternoon, and decided to leave slightly earlier than usual. It started to rain as I made my way back to the station (again!). So, naturally - being in a hurry - I tried nipping across the forecourt of the station to get to the station entrance itself, and had to skip out in front of a tour bus. The driver of which put his foot down on the accelerator upon seeing me in front of him. I mouthed the words "Slow down, you're only a tour bus" at him and you should have seen the over-reaction. He was shouting and swearing at me, making obscene gestures. In fact, he was so intent on doing all this that he couldn't possibly have been looking where he was driving. He was making a right spectacle of himself, and to be honest, I was shocked.

I mean, a tour bus! Don't get me started on tour buses. They are the bane of Oxford's roads; a complete nuisance. I feel very strongly that they have NO PLACE at the station for starters. The station exists to facilitate travel. It exists for the commuters. So, quite naturally there will be people going in and out at all times, crossing the road in front of it, etc. We don't need bloody open-top fucking tour buses getting in the way and being a hazard to all and sundry. Tour buses are like parasites. They are leaches, hoping to take advantage of dim-witted visitors to Oxford. They serve no purpose to the people who live or work in Oxford and are a pain in the arse for all those of us who use the station.

How DARE a mere tour bus driver give me all that shit, as if HE had the right to be there and not I. I feel really incensed about this whole thing and will most likely email the tour bus operator and Oxford Council in the morning to complain about this ridiculous state of affairs.

Then in Didcot some stupid old bastard on his old rusty bike came within an inch of cycling into me on the footpath. I'll swear he swerved towards me; the path was plenty wide enough for both of us and I was walking to one side of it, not down the centre.

Then some little girl across the road saw me and screamed "Whoah!" and flattened herself against the wall, which I thought was incredibly bizarre behaviour.

What is wrong with all these people today? Why am I getting all these severe negative reactions from people? Has my countenence changed without my knowledge so that I now resemble someone universally despised like Margaret Thatcher or Noel Edmonds?

Further more disturbing was the sight of some very menacing and black looking clouds overhead, plus the biggest bird I have seen since I was in Egypt in 2000 which was circling around beneath the same clouds in a threatening kind of way. It must have been an eagle, I tell you. It was ENORMOUS. I wonder if it is an omen of some kind?

I wonder if I ought to stay at home tomorrow?
posted by Gina Snowdoll 4:55 pm [edit] 

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Hurrah! Someone has sent me a CD of a recording they made of Daniel Ash at Long Island on his US tour earlier this year. I might have a go at tweaking the recording a little, aurally exciting it, as it were, as it's probably the closest I'm going to get to experiencing one of his gigs. There was talk of him coming over to play a few shows in the UK and Europe, but a little bird tells me that he's scared of flying, so my interpretation is that it probably won't happen. Which is a shame.

However, I am going to see his ex-bandmate Peter Murphy at Union Chapel next month. I can't wait. His current album Dust is truly a thing of beauty.

Mind, having said that, I was listening to it on the train home tonight, and it relaxed me so much that I nearly fell asleep!
posted by Gina Snowdoll 8:29 pm [edit] 

Don't you point that baby at me

I am told that - and I like to think that - I have a good many feminine characteristics. I also have a few male characterisitics, but that's only to be expected from someone who describes themselves as transgendered.

It's not easy to give labels to these male/female characteristics. It's more a case of a general "air" about oneself, certain feelings, the way things are done. If I had to try to list my feminine characteristics, off the top of my head I'd say these include things like and as diverse as my kindness, compassion for others, my ability to listen, my urge to gossip, my total lack of competitiveness and disinterest in sports and other traditional male pastimes. Other things I could include are the way I walk sometimes (and I'm not just talking about when I'm wearing high heels), certain mannerisms and body language (which I'd argue are natural and not affectations, by the way).

Conversely my male side manifests itself in things like my at-times almost obsessive interest in music and bands, etc, and also in being a compulsive collector of things such as magazines, books, videos, records, CDs, guitars. Even so, this side of me has a girly aspect too, e.g. my shoe collection, and my enormous make-up box and its myriad of contents.

However, my female side runs away and hides when it comes to babies and small children. Today for example, a colleague currently on leave following the arrival of her first-born came into the office with first-born in tow. Immediately all the women in the office flocked around her - and more importantly the baby - and proceeded to take it in turns to hold the child (which I believe is a boy), make cooing noises, and generally become animated and gleeful. But I, along with the males of the office, stayed well clear.

You see, I'm just not very good at babies. I don't mean that I'm bad with them. I'm as gentle as a lamb on the rare occasions when I actually have to hold a baby in my arms. But I'm not very good at all this baby appreciation thing.

Oh yes, it's a baby. Very good.

I mean, what else can you say? I can't do all the cooing noises and the ridiculous voices that people seem to adopt when confronted with young infants. It'd just feel so fake, and then I'd start to get self-conscious and feel awkward. What am I supposed to do? Go and join the throng and stand there watching the poor child? It's a baby, not a peepshow.

Yes, a baby. It - sorry I should say he or she - obviously means the world to the proud parents. But to anyone else, it - he - she - is just a baby and quite unremarkable.

I don't mean to sound callous or unfeeling, and I can appreciate that the parents themselves are full of joy, but I just can't summon up any ersatz enthusiasm for other people's children. That's not saying I dislike babies and children, so please don't misunderstand me. But there has to be some connection for me to show interest, e.g. child of a close friend or relative. Actually, I'm soon going to be visiting my sister and am quite looking forward to seeing her sprogs again (aged 8 and 6, so hardly babies), so I'm certainly no child-hater.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 12:31 pm [edit] 

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Light Bulb Dilemma

Ping! went my living room light as I flicked the switch last night. Damn, another bulb gone. A quick search in the cupboard under the sink told me that I had no spares. So, I considered the next option, that is, taking a bulb from somewhere else in the house. Except there were no candidates for a bit of bulb robbery, as all lamps had already been raided, the landing at the top of the stairs bulb had recently blown and been replaced with a poor quality 40 watt bulb (OK for the top of the stairs, but not bright enough for the living room).

So, at 9 o'clock with the place becoming decidedly dim, I made the decision to follow the only route left to me. And thus, I nipped out to Tesco to get my week's shopping a few days early and with light bulbs being at the top of my shopping list.

You know how it is with light bulbs. One pings and dies on you, then the next day another does the same trick; and then another soon after than. It's almost like it's some kind of inaminate object mass-suicide. Light bulbs are truly the lemmings of the household appliance species.

With this in mind, I decided that buying a single bulb was useless, as no sooner would I replace it than a bulb would be sure to expire elsewhere in the house. Even a two-pack might not cover my light bulb replacement needs in light of the anticipated forthcoming spate of bulb deaths. What I needed was a multipack!

So, as soon as I got to Tesco I made a beeline for the aisle which is home to the light bulbs and picked up a Tesco brand pack of six 100 watt bulbs.

And put it back on the shelf really quickly, wiping my hands against my jacket (Unclean! Unclean!) almost immediately. For the packaging was decorated with pictures of moths. (I assume because they are attracted to the light?)

Yukkkkkkk!!! and vomit!!! I HATE moths! I detest the fucking things. Horrible ugly fluttery nasty nasty vile things, they are. They give me the creeps, big time. They actually repulse me so much that I seriously want to vomit if I so much as see one. I'm not exaggerating here; they turn my stomach. I don't even like butterflies. I'd gladly see every species of moth and butterfly destroyed, never to return. My world would be a much better place for it.

What on earth do Tesco thing they are playing at putting pictures of these disgusting creatures on their products? Moth phobia is very common. Do Tesco also put pictures of spiders and snakes on other products? Tarantula yoghurt, anyone? Or how about cockroach toilet paper? (Indeed, they do have a picture of a butterfly on Tesco brand white toilet paper. I never ever buy that colour, because of the picture. Karen bought it once, and I quickly removed the toilet rolls and destroyed the packaging as soon as possible).

Actually, I know this started out as a little semi-humourous rant, but I'd like to formerly complain to Tesco about this. The pictures on their packaging are actually dissuading me from buying a product. That is not good.

Anyway, I ended up having to buy a 10-pack of bulbs from the Tesco cheapo plain and simple white and blue packaged range. Which actually cost more than my original choice of the 6-pack, but there was no way I was going to take that packaging with those evil vile THINGS on it into my home.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 11:35 am [edit] 

Here's my latest submission to The Mirror Project. This one isn't terribly arty, it's just a simple self-portrait.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 7:48 am [edit] 

Monday, July 01, 2002

No sooner do I mention Bet Lynch's return to Coronation Street than she mysteriously disappears from the programme, and we are fobbed off with the rather lame "Oh, she lost the court case and had gone back to Brighton."

What really happened to her? Was she abducted?

Which takes us into X Files territory (I can't be bothered finding a link to that). Which is another show that fobs us off with lame so-called explanations. Last Thursday's episode on Sky One made no sense at all. In this instance we were fobbed off in a roundabout way, as Dana Scully explained to a class of FBI trainees that not every case is conveniently wrapped up, not every loose end nicely tied up. (Or something like that, I'm not quoting her here, just giving you the ghist of it). How naff is that? It's just shoddy writing, that's what I call it. At least the situations which "cop out" in The Simpsons have comedy value.

But back to Coronation Street... Is it just me or does anyone else think that this soap is beginning to delve into areas only previously explored in science fiction? For several months now already the programme has featured dodgy computer animations, during the title credits in particular, i.e. the "dodgy" looking train (or is it a tram?) crossing the bridge.

But that's nothing. In tonight's episode we saw shifty Richard Hillman eavesdropping on Norris's telling Rita about how Emily was sickly. No doubt Richard was hoping to take advantage of her being poorly and try in some nefarious way to hurry her along to the grave (in which case, her house becomes his... long story, unless you've been following this particular soap).

But what interested me was the great big swirly thing behind Richard's right shoulder. Indeed, it appeared for all the world that there was some kind of worm-hole or "portal" into the very fabric of the space time continuum right there in the Kabin (the papershop).

I think that the nasty shifty Richard is some kind of shape shifting space alien - which would explain why he didn't seem concerned at the sight of the swirling vortex in The Kabin. Indeed, it was probably him that caused it to be there. He can most likely summon it up at will, and nip through it into other dimensions. How else did he so conveniently dispose of the body of his ex-wife who he pushed into that pit on the building site? Eh? Eh?
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:14 pm [edit] 

Tonight I've been listening to The Monkees.

That's right, I've braved the HMV sale at last. I can't say I was that impressed with it (anyway, I've been buying lots of my CD "wants" from off eBay recently), but I did find The Definitive Monkees - 29 songs for £6.99 can't be bad. Mind I could've done without "Heart and Soul" at the end, recorded in 1987 following a reunion, and sounding like just about every other 1980s soft rock act. Yawn.

But...

"Last Train to Clarksville", "I'm A Believer", "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone", "Pleasant Valley Sunday", "Daydream Believer", "Valleri", "Porpoise Song"...

Wonderful tunes! Hey Hey indeed.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 6:26 pm [edit] 

Hey hey! Shel - clever soul that she is - has been building my theremin. She just rang me up and played it down the phone to me. That's another instrument to add to my (increasingly more bizarre) musical arsenal.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 12:54 pm [edit] 

Mucho excitement. One of the guitars I'm trying to sell on eBay has reached its reserve. And there's still 4 days to go on this particular auction, so I could still get more than 300 quid for it. I'm so pleased! When I bought the Fernandes sustainer guitar a couple of months ago I made an agreement with myself that I did so on the condition that I sold at least one of my older guitars, and made some of the money back. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I'll get a really good price for this (bearing in mind that eBay will want to take their cut too).
posted by Gina Snowdoll 9:46 am [edit] 

(Old) Dear of the Week
Gina, Saturday 29 June 2002
Yours Truly! Piccies taken Saturday night.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 8:47 am [edit]