Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Smoothie operator

Not that you'd think so from the fine figure of a man that I am (see the pic on the right if you don't believe me - but don't believe the strangely pointed head that I appear to own - it's not like that at all. And the pic on the left isn't me at all. Honest.), but my diet is pretty appalling. Cigarettes supply me with most of my vitamins and minerals, thank God, otherwise I'd be dead. And vitamin pills provide the rest. I seem to be surviving on a diet of chocolate, coffee, tea, microwave ready-meals (which probably contain a lot of energy, due to the fact that they soak up microwaves) and lots of jacket potatoes with cheese, mayo and toasted sunflower seeds, along with beans on toast (with added Marmite and cheese) and peanut butter (with added Marmite) on toast.

Oh, actually, that doesn't look too bad, does it. Well, apart from the almost complete absence of those vegetable and fruit things.

Having found myself being sucked into the weird, faecal world of hamster-woman 'Doctor' Gillian McKeith (oh, that's who the picture on the left is) the other night, I thought: 'OK, let's try a few fruit and veg, just to see if they give me boundless energy and the skin of a 16 year-old (available on ebay, I would imagine). '
So I went, with typical Michalowski class, to Lidl today and spent ten or fifteen quid on an assortment of brown, green, red, orange and other unnaturally-coloured items that normally I would sooner shove up my bum than down my throat. The plan, you see, is to turn them into smoothies and soups. So - basically - I don't have to actually taste any of the viler ones. Actually, that's not quite true: when faced with fruit that I've actually bought, I can quite happily eat most of it (as I did back in 2005 when I got hepatitis A and couldn't eat any fat for several months - the amount of fresh fruit I got through was obscene, and probably contributed to the shade of custard yellow that I turned). But vegetables are Satan's Turds, and I've sworn never to allow most of them to pass my lips - in solid form, at least.
So, armed with the products of a small smallholding, me and Mike spent an hour or so this evening liquidising, simmering, chopping (and washing up. Never forget that - making smoothies and soups requires a ridiculous amount of washing up: God knows what our carbon footprint is now. It would probably have been more environmentally friendly to have flown to Rio de Janeiro to drink smoothies there).
And the end result?
Well, the soup that Mike made (containing butternut squash - always a favourite of Our Gillian - onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic and, erm, some others) was nice but needed a bit of salt or some herbs (yeuch!) or something to give it real bite.
The smoothies I made (one with orange juice and one with peach juice as a base, along with various selections of pomegranate seeds, kiwi fruits, bananas, carrotts and grapes) were lovely, if suspiciously similar-tasting ie the orange juice-based ones tasted very orangey, and the peach juice-based ones very peachy). I think I need strawberries and raspberries and blueberries and, well, lots of berries basically, to create a variety. It's fun, but we need a bigger liquidiser. I'm planning on making big batches and freezing them (although, apparently, frozen banana ones go brown). And a bigger freezer.
So next time you see me, take a close look: if I have the skin of a 16 year-old, either the fruit'n'veg are working, or I've been on ebay.

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Hoarding - my genetic inheritance

My mother does it, I do it.
And if - God forbid! - I ever have kids, I'd like to think that they'll do it too. I hoard. Not quite obsessively (although if you ask Mike, he'll say differently) but throwing anything away is always difficult. We're having a bit of sort-out at the moment (basically, trying to find ways to fit more stuff into the same space). It's not as if we live in a shoe-box: a sizeable three-bedroomed house with more shelves than the British Library. But still...
Youngsters today are dead lucky that, just as house prices are shooting through the roof and everyone's having to live in tinier and tinier spaces, boffins have come up with more and more compact ways of storing media: DVDs, CDs, mp3s etc. I have shelves full of 12-inch singles and albums, the complete (yes, yes, I know...) Star Trek: Voyager and Deep Space Nine - on video - and hundreds of 7-inch singles. Collectively, they take up the space of a one-bedroomed flat in Kensington. If we got rid of them all (ie if I spent a fortune on replacing the Star Treks with DVDs - which I have no intention of doing, thank you very much: remember, I've seen them) and turned all the albums and singles into mp3s (at least I might actually listen to them again), we'd have room to rent out space to a family of Polish plumbers. Which, actually, would be quite useful at the moment.
But of course none of that will happen, and slowly, month by month, Mike and I will be squeezed out of our home by my accumulated stuff.


Friday, 12 January 2007

Dress for success - or failure

This blog writing thingy starts to get a bit addictive, doesn't it? You remember something that you were complaining to friends about recently, and suddenly, BANG!, you're putting it on the interwebnet for all and everyone to ignore.
So what's with bloody night clubs and so-called 'dress codes'? And no, it's nothing to do with 'hanky codes' (go Google it if you don't know what I'm talking about). Recently, I've been clubbing in all sorts of clubs I'd never have set foot in before August, and despite being a card-carrying woofter, I've found that straight clubs (or, at the very least, mixed clubs) have the best music (a bit of a switch from 'the Devil has all the best tunes', really): back in the 70s and 80s, it was accepted wisdom that us benders were at the cutting edge of music and fashion etc etc. Maybe it's still true in big cities, but up here in Leeds - and Manchester - it doesn't feel the case at all. In Leeds, where the gay scene is pitifully small for the city's status as the fifth largest, by population, in 2001, the only full-time gay club is the upstairs bit - The Loft - of Queens Court (yes, no apostrophe! Tsk!) - which, if I recall, is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The other late-night venues are 'gay-friendly' - places like Mission and SpeedQueen.
Which explains why, if I want a full-on queer night, I'll go across the Pennines to Manchester, where there's at least Legends, Cruz 101 and Essential. But it's a trek, and - at least with Legends - the music and atmosphere can be very variable.
So (to get back to the point), I've been doing more clubbing in Leeds at mixed venues, where the music is usually guaranteed to be pretty good, and the crowd, despite being overwhelmingly straight, are very, very rarely homophobic, and usually very, very gay-friendly. But for some reason, it's these clubs that seem to go for weird dress codes for the punters.
Glasshouse, an 11pm-9am Saturday nighter, at Mission has turned me away on two occasions for not wearing 'expensive enough' trainers. (Their words). Despite there being loads of much more skanky-looking people inside, wearing much skankier-looking trainers (and other gear) than me. Boots are fine though, it seems.
GladRags, an 11pm-5am Friday nighter, at The Space nearly turned me away for wearing black boots (and jeans and T-shirt, which were fine). Trainers are OK there. But not sportswear (clothes with sports logos - Umbro etc - two mates were turned away for that particular sin).

SpeedQueen (pictured), 10.30pm-4.30am Saturday nighter, at Rehab - which has the best atmosphere and music of the lot - has no apparent dresscode, which is great.
Historically, gay clubs have never had dress codes (unless they've been fetish nights with particular themes); straight clubs have, historically, been of the 'no jeans, no trainers' mentality, so maybe this is all just a blurring of the boundaries. It's a shame they can't all be a bit more consistent or a bit more flexible: you don't want to take a change of shoes, trousers and tops out with you on the offchance that you'll end up somewhere you weren't expecting.


Behind the times - but catching up

As I mentioned in my first post, down at the bottom, the main reason for starting this was to be able to put my latest accomplishments on the web quicker than if I did it via my proper website.

Last year saw the publication of the Professor Bernice Summerfield anthology Collected Works. Published by Big Finish - who've also published the Doctor Who short story anthologies to which I've contributed over the past few years (see the list of my published stuff, right hand column). Edited by the very talented Nick Wallace, Collected Works is - in my opinion - just about the best DW-related anthology I've read, with some brilliant stories, and only two duffers (and no, I won't say which!!).

That heading

Forgot to explain the blog title, just in case anyone's wondering....
It's a line from a Bill Nelson song, He and Sleep Were Brothers, from way back when, that I've always wanted to use as a novel title 'cos I love it so much. In the absence of a suitable novel on the horizon, I thought I might as well use it here. I've not heard anything of Bill's recently, but back in the 80s and 90s, he was a fascinating and incredibly prolific musician. If I wasn't so lazy - and so much more into dance music nowadays - I'd have a dig around and see what I can find. What sticks in my mind most about some of his stuff were the incredible titles: The Love That Whirls (Diary of a Thinking Heart), The Crystal Escalator in the Palace of God Department Store....



Well here's something I (sort of) swore to myself that I'd never do: have a blog. Not because I'm completely averse to the idea of it or that I hold bloggers in low esteem, but because I've never really seen the point of it where my own thoughts are concerned. None of them have seemed interesting or thought-provoking enough for me to feel that they should be inflicted on the world. And, God knows, it's not like the internet needs another person telling the world what they think about life, the universe and everything.

The main reason I've gone for it is that it's been, ooh, almost two years since I updated my website ( or - mainly because I keep forgetting the ftp settings for uploading new stuff, and because I keep forgetting how to use whatever package it was that I used to design and lay out the site. Every time I came to do something new to it, there was this horrid learning curve whilst I relearned even the basics.

So I figured that a blog, linked from the front of my website, might be a better way to keep things up-to-date.

And why have I decided that I need to keep my 'web presence' updated? Aha! Well that would be telling - and, at least for the next couple of months, I'm keeping my mouth shut for fear of jinxing things.

Besides, there are a couple of things that I've written since the website was last updated that I thought I should mention.