Thursday, May 31, 2007

Big Mouth Bad Luck?

First of all, I don't believe in "luck." But if I did, mine would be consistently bad. Those of you who watched the first episode of "Big Brother's Big Mouth" (BBBM) last night, will have noticed something. I wasn't on! I was all ready to do the show and was on site, waiting in the room where show participants watched "Big Brother" together. All of a sudden, my nose started bleeding again. This seemed to be a relapse from my prior incident, earlier this month (see "Going to the Hospital," 9 May, 2007). After half an hour, the production staff made the decision that I couldn't appear on the program, because they were ready to put the audience in the studio. I don't blame them, they were doing the right thing. Still, I was utterly disappointed. After having the opportunity to be in the first show of the series (thanks to Mucky Sarah inviting me to be her guest), I missed out.
The BBBM staff were fantastic. They invited me to watch the show from their production office, where audience members are not usually permitted to be. Unfortunately, not long after BBBM started, a decision was made to call an ambulance and send me to the hospital, so I didn't get to see much of the show, even on TV. After arriving at the nearest hospital, I was eventually seen by an A & E doctor. He cauterized the bleeding point and turn off the flow. Bish, bash, bosh, I was released by 3:30AM. None of this staying overnight in the hospital nonsense, which happened last time. BBBM staff assured me that I will have the chance to come back again and do the show. I suggest that those of you within the UK tune in to every BBBM episode, as you never know when I will be on.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Programming Alert: "Big Brother's Big Mouth."

Tomorrow, 30th May, is the start of the new series of "Big Brother" (UK). After the main show, where we will see the new housemates enter the house, watch "Big Brother's Big Mouth." I will be part of the in studio audience. As it's a very interactive show, hopefully, I will get some screen time. The main "big Brother" show starts on Channel 4, at 9PM. "Big Mouth" follows.


Married Life: the Black Queen Story Part 6

The honeymoon was over, literally. On the day we returned to the UK, I had a job interview. If was for a job in a call centre, as a travel agent, selling travel products over the phone. The interview went well enough, because I got the job. My wife said they were probably taking anyone with a pulse. My first day on the job was 13th July, 1998. I took the train, like a real commuter. I had to change trains twice, in a round about route from Hook, the village we lived in, to Bracknell, where the call centre was located. When I came home, my wife was waiting for me at the train station, with the kids. How thoughtful she was, then. My new job paid commission only and it quickly dawned on me that I couldn't afford the train fare. My wife was working in Datchet, on the other side of Windsor from Bracknell, so she and I started riding to work together. She would drop me off in Bracknell, then continue on to Datchet.
After about a month of car pooling, my wife started to complain about the arrangement. We decided that I should buy a motorcycle, which would give me transport of my own. Once I had my bike, my wife was happier. For a while, life was good. I had an instant family; a wife, two stepchildren, and a dog. For Christmas, my wife bought me a pay-as-you-go mobile phone. Every night, before I left work, I would phone her and let her know I was on my way. She used to have dinner ready just as I got home. The dog used to follow me around the house and lay at my feet. We used to go for Sunday dinners at my in-laws, which would be barbecues during the summer months. Every other weekend, the children's father would have them for the weekend, so my wife and I would have time alone.
After a year, my wife suggested that we buy a house. If we were only staying in the UK temporarily, I asked her, "why buy?" It soon became apparent that we weren't going anywhere. We ended up buying the house we were renting, so we got our house without moving. Life was good...for a while. We went on several vacations, including: Majorca, Tunisia, Venice, Orlando, and New York. D---a went from working as a bookkeeper to studying accounting. An early strain appeared, which took the form of my wife being jealous of the time I spent on the internet. This might have been because I met her, originally, over the internet. D---a began to nag a bit, trying to get me to do ever increasing amounts of DIY as well as household chores. I started to volunteer for overtime, at work. We needed the money and it got me out of DIY. Gradually, sex became less and less frequent. When I asked D---a why we were having sex less frequently than we had when we were dating, she said that during out dating period, it had felt like she was on holiday. Now was everyday married life. Yes, the honeymoon was definitely over.
Over the years, my wife became more and more testy. I used to tell her I loved her, regularly. Her response was to say that I said it too easily, so I must not mean it. More and more, she found fault with me. I started to feel that no matter how much I earned, it was never enough. I never thought about leaving her, though, as I was committed to our marriage. Then she said she thought I was too lazy to make a good father, so she wasn't going to have a child by me. That was a serious problem, as having children was the main reason for getting married. The following year, she said she'd decided I was good enough to have a baby with, just not yet. Where would it all end?

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Honeymooners: the Black Queen Story Part 5

I wasn't able to go on a honeymoon immediately after getting married, because I had to get a document stuck in my passport, granting me leave to remain in the UK. I had to acquire this document before I left the country. There was another impediment to our honeymoon: my wife's ex-husband. When she asked him to have the kids so we could go away, he refused. D---a was upset that he was being so spiteful. I decided to turn it around on him. I asked her if the kids had ever been to America. She confirmed they had not. So, I suggested that we take them with us. That way they'd remember their first trip to America as being with us. My wife agreed, so that's what we did.
After I sorted out the bureaucratic details, D---a got the boyfriend of a friend of hers, who worked for British Airways, to book us some discounted tickets, through their staff travel office. I wanted to take my bride and her two bairns to New York City and Washington, D.C. There was no discounted space available to New York, or to Washington, so I suggested trying Philadelphia, which is halfway between. Sure enough, there was space available to Philly. The four of us flew from London's Heathrow airport, about a week after our wedding.
At Philadelphia International Airport, I picked up a rental car. I selected a big, Pontiac, Grand Prix. I like a car with power and it had room for the four of us and our luggage. I headed south, towards D.C. I drove till we felt like stopping. I wanted to get us out of the Philly area, because I knew from experience that motels would be cheaper once we were out of the big city area. Somewhere in Delaware, along Interstate 95, my new family informed me they were all hungry. I saw a sign for a Holiday Inn with reasonable rates, advertised as being off the next exit. I stopped there as Holiday Inns are known to be "family friendly." The kids could stay free, sharing a room with us. A room was available, so we checked in and put our bags in the room. After that, we made a beeline to the hotel restaurant. Once the family were fed and watered, we went back to our room. The kids wanted to go swimming, but we were feeling tired. My wife and I advised them that we should have an early night. After all, it was five hours later back home.
In the morning, we had breakfast, then I indulged the children in a dip in the pool. The pool area was deserted, other than the four of us, but the kids didn't seem to mind. By lunch time, we were back on the road. Once we reached the suburbs of D. C., I looked for an inexpensive place to say. Spotting a Days Inn just outside the District, in Maryland, I stopped there. I knew prices would be cheaper there than they would be actually within D.C. After settling into our room, the kids began a familiar refrain. They wanted to go swimming again. We all got into our swimming costumes and headed for the pool. When we got there, I had a strange experience.
Another family came to use the pool. They had a boy who was about 12-14 years old. He took one look at my beautiful, eight-year-old stepdaughter and shot straight for her. If it had been a cartoon, he would have left a smoke trail. My wife found the resultant look on my face hilarious. I was not happy. I scowled at the boy, who seemed to take no notice. To make matters worse, he looked and sounded like a particularly low class type of American. His sleazy appearance and accent only added to a trailer-trash image. Without any idea where it had come from, I was suddenly flush with a feeling of, "he's not good enough for my little girl." The only problem was, she's not actually my little girl. I was just her newly crowned stepfather. I spent the rest of our poolside afternoon smouldering, much to the continued amusement of my bride. When we finally made our move to go to our room, the sleazy boy actually had the nerve to ask MY stepdaughter for our room number. The innocent little lass walked up to me and gently asked what our room number was. Thank goodness she didn't remember it! "We don't give our room number to strangers," I advised her. I felt some slight relief that we wouldn't be disturbed by horny fourteen-year-old boys calling our room in the middle of the night. As we walked into the building, I gave the boy one last, withering glance, as if to say, "she's only 8, for Pete's sake!"
Part of my trip itinerary was that we would visit Washington while the Libertarian Party National Convention was on. Formerly, I had been a member of the Party's National Committee (LNC). My political career included two terms as Vice-Chair of the Libertarian Party of New York State, 1993 Libertarian candidate for Mayor of New York City, Official Liaison from the Party to the Howard Stern Campaign, and candidate for the nomination for Governor of New York. I was quite well known amongst convention delegates and I wanted to take the opportunity of introducing my new family. As a former member of the LNC, I had received an invitation to attend a show on the first evening of the convention, performed by the Capital Steps. The opportunity of taking my family to a free show was too good to resist. It was a thrilling night out for the kids, who weren't used to being taken to such things. I was also proud of my new family and wanted to show them off.
Altogether, we spent three days in the D.C area. I took my family sightseeing, just as I had been taken sightseeing on my first ever trip, which was to Washington, when I was 10 years old. On our last night in the D.C. area, which also happened to be July 3rd, my birthday, we went to Baltimore's Inner Harbor, for dinner. On the 4th of July, we checked out of the Days Inn and began the drive to New York. We stopped in Philadelphia, halfway, around lunch time. I took the family to see Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, back in 1776. We watched some ceremony commemorating the event, which was part of Philly's 4th of July celebrations. After a bite to eat, we got back on the road north. It was to be the children's first time seeing New York.
Speaking of firsts, I had arranged for us to stay at my family's home, on Long Island. It would be my grandmother's first time meeting the children, but my mother's first time meeting them and their mother. My mother's a bit eccentric and she has a history of avoiding meeting my girlfriends. After I got engaged, D---a pleaded with me that she wanted to meet my mother, who was to be her future mother-in-law. I told her I would try my best and passed on her request to my mother. With a stubbornness that is my mother's trademark, she refused D---a's quite reasonable request. I implored her to change her mind, for my sake, but all she would agree to is that she would speak to D---a over the phone. It was arranged for the last trip D---a made to visit me in America, before we got married. My mother left the house and then called. When I answered, she stated she was ready to speak to my fiancee. After I handed the phone to D---a, my mother proceeded to tell her that she shouldn't marry me. Gee, thanks mom! Fortunately, or unfortunately, D---a didn't heed my mother's advice. Now that we'd been married, my mother was prepared to meet my wife, face to face. In a strange about face, once my mother had met D---a, she acted very friendly. She acted like she liked D---a more than she liked me. My grandmother and mother admired the children as they played in our back garden. So far, this was the closest they had come to having great-grandchildren and grandchildren, respectively. They were quite beautiful children, so it was easy to admire them. My folks also saw me in a different light. This was their first time seeing me taking responsibility for a family of my own. They were both quite surprised at how well I took to the role. Neither of them had been aware that for all of my adult life, I had longed to be a family man.
Staying at my family's home saved us the cost of a hotel. Using it as a base of operations, we took the children to see the sights of New York, which I had previously shown their mother. This included a trip to the top of the then still standing, World Trade Center, as well as a visit to Liberty Island. On our first night, we started off by going to see the 4th of July fireworks display, over the East River. Most children love fireworks and the New York City display, sponsored by Macy's, is one of the largest in the world. I tried to expose the children to as many delightful experiences as possible. Among these were ice cream parlours, hot buttered movie popcorn, sidewalk vended pretzels and hot dogs, and F.A.O. Schwartz toy store. This was more their honeymoon than my wife's. We even managed to squeeze in a trip to Six Flags Great Adventure theme and safari park. After three nights, it was time to return to the UK. We said goodbye to my surviving biological family and the house I grew up in. I drove us back to Philadelphia, to catch our flight back to my new home.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Artist of the Week: Bodyrox

This week, my Artist of the Week is Bodyrox. Bodyrox is the production duo of Jon Pearn and Nick Bridges. They earned the honor slot this week because of their hit single, "Yeah, Yeah," featuring vocals by Luciana. The song grew on my gradually, after I started seeing the video on the music TV channels. Then, for some reason over this past week, I can't get it out of my head. Luciana's performance in the video I find captivating. I don't normally like that two-tone, blond and brunette combination hairstyle, but it seems to work for her. Something about her dancing I find captivating and the hair flipping doesn't go amiss.
"Yeah, Yeah" was released in October, last year, reaching number 2 in the UK charts. It has become a massive club anthem and earned Bodyrox an Ivor Novello Award nomination. It's inspiring a new genre of House music that some are calling, "New Rave." Not ones to rest on their laurels, Bodyrox released another single just last month. Entitled "Another Chance, Every Time I See Her (Sound of Eden)," which continues their trend of producing quality dance music. You can check them out on Myspace at: . For Pete's sake, I feel like going clubbing.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

White Wedding: the Black Queen Story Part 4

When I got engaged to D---a, in early 1998, my presumption was that she would move to America and we'd live there. So many Brits I meet say they would love to live in America, that it never occurred to me that it would be otherwise. America is great, so who wouldn't want to live there? I especially love New York and Long Island, where I grew up. Because we didn't have much money, my initial plan was for us to live in my family home, on Long Island. I already owned two-thirds of that property, with no mortgage. D---a hated that idea.
D---a stated, emphatically, that she didn't want to live in the same house as my mother and grandmother. She wanted us to buy a house together. We debated the pros and cons, back and forth, but I ended up agreeing to go along with her desires. In the meantime, we were anxious to get her divorce finalized. She was still married to her first husband and until the divorce was final, there could be no wedding. D---a was devoted to her two children and she worried that her husband might try to gain custody, just to spite her. I tried to comfort her and banish those worries, telling her that most divorced men really don't want to be saddled with two young children to raise. Besides, courts don't usually take children away from their mothers, unless the mothers have been involved in some extreme behavior. D---a was anything but extreme. I didn't think she had anything to worry about. The children would become the basis for a radical change in plans.
D---a first expressed doubts about moving to America by questioning how it would affect her children. She said they'd have to leave the school they attended. I pointed out that we have schools in America. Also, with the money we could save by living in my family home, we could afford to send them to private school, giving them a much better education than they were getting in a British, government schools. Then she said they would miss their friends. I responded by saying that they would make new friends. Her next objection was that they wouldn't get to see their father. I pointed out that airplanes flew to New York, from London, several times per day. He had his own business and could surely afford to come see them whenever he wanted. Finally, she said their father wouldn't approve. She started to panic that if she tried to move the kids to America, their father would seek custody of them. I tried suggesting that we could talk to him and point out the great advantages the children would have by living in America, but the more she thought about it, the more steadfastly she concluded that her husband would never go for it. That was when she first began suggesting that I move to England. At first, I resisted, strongly. I loved visiting the UK, but I had no desire to live there. D---a argued that it would be easier for me to move there. I had no children and she already rented a house we could live in. It would mean that the children could continue attending the school they were already attending and they could keep all their friends. She suggested that I move there for a couple of years, until we were "established" as a family, then we could move to America. Gradually, she began to wear me down. I loved D---a intensely and if being with her meant moving to England, then so be it. After all, it was just for a couple of years.
The next issue was the actual wedding. I had always been of the opinion that it should be held in England. D---a had a much larger circle of friends and family than I did, so it made sense to have the ceremony there. The few people I would be inviting could fly over, which would make much more sense than expecting all of D---a's friends and family to fly to America. I informally invited the people from America who I wanted on the guest list, in order to give them several months notice, so they would have time to budget. Immediately, my mother said no. My grandmother was hesitant, but I hoped she would come around, eventually. Surely someone from my family would attend my wedding.
Then there came the issue of the type of wedding we were going to have. D---a had been married before, so she wasn't that bothered about having a fancy wedding. She'd seen it all before. She didn't even want to wear white. I countered by pointing out that although she'd been married before, I hadn't and I wanted to experience a full, proper wedding, complete with white dress. She yielded to me on that point. Who would pay for it? Even though it's still the tradition, in England, that the bride's family pay for the wedding, D---a's mother was onto her second husband and D---a thought her step-father would not be interested in paying for her wedding. Great! She concluded that we would have to pay for it ourselves. Neither of us had any savings, which presented a bit of an obstacle. I was unemployed again, having finished a temporary contract with British Airways, in New York. I had hoped they'd offer me a permanent contract, but they hadn't. How would I find a job quickly, when I was due to move out of the country in a few months?
I contacted Peter Giordano, owner of Carizma Limousines, based in Valley Stream, Long Island. I had worked for Pete five years earlier, while I was attending grad school, as a chauffeur. I explained to Pete that I needed temporary work until I moved to England and that I was trying to save as much money as possible to pay for my wedding. He was great. he agreed to hire me immediately and very quickly, started funneling as much work as he could to me. I worked seven days a week and every hour I could get. D---a started working, as well, at friend's business. With money starting to come in, I came up with another plan to help the cause along. I told my mother and grandmother that D---a's folks were offering to pay half the cost of the wedding. I suggested that they expected my family to match that. It worked and my folks came up with £1,000 toward the wedding. Phase two of my plan was for D---a to then tell her folks that my family were contributing £1,000 toward the wedding and they expected her family to match it. Her folks weren't quite as generous, as I recall, but I think we managed to get £500 out of them. D---a and I each kicked in £500 of our own, so we ended up with a working budget of £2,500 (around $5,000 at today's exchange rates).
We needed to set a venue. As neither of us was religious, we quickly decided on a registry office wedding. It's similar to getting married at a town hall, in America. That led to the choosing of a date. I wanted a June wedding, preferably on a Saturday, so my guests from America could travel without having to take time off work. The registry office had two Saturday dates in June available. We opted for June 20th. For the reception, I persuaded D---a to ask her mother to let us use her back garden. What mother is going to refuse her daughter such a simple request for her wedding? Her mother agreed. That saved us a lot of money that we would have had to spend hiring a venue. I suggested that D---a ask her mother to cook the food, as her Chinese mother was a fantastic cook. She routinely prepared dinners for us with numerous Chinese dishes. Stubbornly, D---a refused to ask. That meant hiring a caterer. We tried a number of caterers, but in the end, we selected one that worked an Australian barbecue theme. They weren't the cheapest, nor the most expensive, but had a lovely menu and sometimes, you get what you pay for. In the end, the catering was our most expensive budget item.
For entertainment, we opted for a DJ rather than a band, as being more cost effective. The couple who D---a worked for had a grown son who was a DJ. D---a negotiated a cheap rate for him. One of D---a's friends was a professional seamstress and she offered to make the dress for free, if we paid for the material. The style of the dress became the subject of debate, as D---a refused to wear a traditional wedding dress, but I wanted something that looked very wedding-like. In the end, D---a kept the final choice of deign a secret, but kept giving me the idea that it would be something not very exciting. I wanted to have a stretch limousine for our wedding car, as has become traditional in America. After all, I was working for a limousine company and had driven numerous brides and grooms for their weddings. This time, it was my turn. D---a resisted, claiming it was too expensive. Around this time, she started to complain that she was having to do all the planning work, as I was in America. She was feeling overwhelmed. I suggested she ask her mother to help. Doesn't every mom want to help plan her daughter's wedding? Apparently, my future mother-in-law wasn't that keen to help. I reassured D---a that she only needed to gather information, then we could discuss things over the phone and make our decisions. I told her how marvelously she was doing and that we'd almost finished. I compromised on the car and we hired a chauffeur driven, white Jaguar. It wasn't a stretch, but it did say "England" in a big way and was one of the lowest priced cars we could find.
We arranged a photographer, a tuxedo rental for me, flowers, and had invitations printed. We hammered out a guest list, trying to keep the numbers as low as possible, without excluding anyone important. Some who didn't make the final cut were invited to attend the wedding itself, at the registry office, even if they couldn't come to the reception. Our final guest list was about 40. One final detail remained: the wedding cake. The cake ended up being one of the biggest problems of the whole wedding plan. In England, the tradition is for the wedding cake to be a frosted fruitcake. I hate fruitcake. I wanted a simple cake, like you find in American weddings. Yellow cake with a butter cream frosting. The only problem was, it seems that British bakeries don't know how to make cakes like the bakers in America do. The closest thing D---a could come up with was something called a "marzipan" cake. She argued that marzipan would be dry, while a fruitcake would be moist. I pointed out that she didn't like the taste of fruitcake any more than I did. What would be the point of buying a wedding cake that neither of us could eat? The cake became a massive argument. I thought D---a was going nutty as a fruitcake over this bloody wedding cake. I came up with a deal to prevent the cake from sinking the whole wedding. Since neither of us would give in, I suggested we get a two tiered cake. One tier would be the fruitcake that D---a wanted, while the other would be the marzipan I was settling for. In the end, that's what we did. I bet D---a that my tier would be eaten more than hers. I won that bet.
Finally, all the plans seemed to be in place. D---'s divorce became final, in time. I had to apply for a fiance's visa, in order to enter the UK to get married. I filed the paperwork with the British embassy in New York and paid the exorbitant fee, which I think was $400. I just wanted to move to Britain, not buy the place. It only took the embassy about six hours to process my visa. As the date approached, my folks flatly refused to come. While I wasn't that surprised at my mother, I was surprised that my grandmother would miss it. My friend Todd had been the first to accept and buy a plane ticket to London. I wanted my ex-girlfriend, Paula, to come. D---a was a little hesitant. Although she had met Paula and we'd all gone out together a few times, D---a still couldn't understand why I wanted Paula at our wedding. Paula and I had remained good friends since our break up. She loved visiting England and I wanted her part of the festivities. That wouldn't persuade D---a, so, I told her that I wanted Paula to attend as an act of revenge. Paula had dumped me, so I wanted her to see me getting married to someone else. Reluctantly, D---a accepted that excuse, although revenge wasn't really part of my plan at all. After D---a agreed, Paula started to waver. I told her she could bring the guy she was dating, but in the end, she decided to attend alone. Once Paula had bought her ticket,that left one more guest of mine, from America, who hadn't purchased a plane ticket to England yet. My best man.
I had asked my friend Tim, from Queens, New York, to be my best man. He and I had been friends for fifteen years, ever since we had worked together at New York Helicopter. He said he considered me his best friend. I thought of Paula as my best friend, but I couldn't very well have Paula as my "best man." Tim was my best male friend, over the past decade, so he seemed the natural choice. I originally invited him and his wife, Barbara, but he said only he would come, to save the cost of a second plane fare. I asked Tim to be my best man about three months before the wedding, to give him time to save up the airfare and take advantage of any advance purchase discounts. I kept checking with him and at the beginning of June, with my wedding less than a month away, he'd still not bought a ticket. I started to worry. I asked him if he was really going to come and he reassured me that he'd be there. I ended up flying over a week before, to make the final preparations. Tim drove me to JFK airport for my one-way flight on Virgin Atlantic Airways, to London. It was a night departure on the 11th of June, 1998. I would fly overnight and arrive at London Gatwick on the morning of the 12th, 8 days before my wedding day. I remember standing at the curbside, saying goodbye to Tim. He'd still not purchased a ticket and I asked him if he was going to show up. He promised me he would.
On the 12th of June, I moved into the house D---a was renting, in a little village called Hook. Hook only had two traffic lights, no cinema, no McDonald's, nor a Burger King. It is a little commuter village in the county of Hampshire, England, about an hour's drive from London. It was certainly different from what I was used to in the suburbs of New York. She'd arranged for me to spend the night before our wedding at her parent's house, in Windsor, so I wouldn't see her in her wedding dress before the ceremony. Her bride's maids would spend the night with her, doing her hair and all that girly stuff women do the night before a wedding. D---a was even magnanimous enough to let Paula spend the night there, saving Paula the expense of a hotel room.
On the wedding morning, I was feeling a little nervous. Would everything work out alright? I still hadn't heard from Tim. Would he show up? I put on my tuxedo. The trousers felt loose and I wished I had braces to hold them up. Here it was, my wedding day. I had wanted to get married since I was 16, now it was finally going to happen, 22 years later. My soon to be in-laws drove me to the registry office. They sat me in the back seat of their Volkswagen Golf, next to my soon to be mother-in-law's good Chinese friend, Mrs. Lamb. I had heard so much about Mrs. Lamb previously, but this was my first time meeting her. I tried making small talk with her, but all she would do is smile in response. Oh well, maybe she wasn't the talkative type. Later, I found out why Mrs. Lamb had so little to say to me. She didn't speak English, only Cantonese. I arrived at the registry office ahead of D---a, as is proper. We had arranged for the white Jaguar to pick D---a up at the house and drive her to the office. Outside the registry office, guests started to congregate. I spotted my friend Todd, from New York with a friend of his, but no Tim. It was almost time for the ceremony and no best man. I'd not heard from him and I didn't even know if he'd made it to England. What to do? After some hesitation, I approached Todd, explained what had happened, and asked him if he would stand in as best man. Todd was willing, but pointed out that he'd accidentally left his suit in New York, so he didn't even have a tie and jacket on. I assured him that would be okay. There was no other male guest of mine, so I didn't really have any other choice. Being best man at a British wedding involves making a big speech at the reception. Todd had no time to prepare a speech, but still he stepped into the breach.
D---a was estranged from her father, and didn't particularly want her step-father giving her away. Instead, she asked her brother, Ray to escort her down the aisle. At least Ray showed up. I guess I worried for a bit over whether D---a would show up, but soon the white Jaguar appeared, majestically gliding up toward the entrance. I went inside and took my place. What else would go wrong? D---a had stressed that she wanted me to look into her eyes when I said my wedding vows, as she complained that in so many British weddings, the groom looks at the registrar, instead of at the bride. We'd modified the vows that the registrar provided, as was our option. We personalized them a bit, to make them our own. I kept reminding myself to remember to look into her eyes.
The modest sized wedding chapel seemed full. Suddenly, the music started and the procession of the bridal party began. D---a's son, Harry, who was only 5, led the way, with the rings strapped to a white cushion. He wore a tiny jacket and tie, to fit his small body. His big eyes seemed filled with awe at being the center of attention for such a large crowd of people. Next came the bride's maids, led by D---a's 8 year old daughter, Ellen. Ellen was already a very pretty girl, but dressed up in a formal dress, she looked like a magical princess. She looked less frightened than Harry and seemed to be enjoying all the ceremony. Following Ellen was the dressmaker, then D---a's maid of honor, her good friend, Alice. Finally, came Ray, with D---a on his arm. Ray wore a smart suit and executed his duties with proper circumspection. D---a looked the vision of loveliness. As soon as I saw her, I realized that she'd been teasing me about the dress she intended to wear. Collaborating with the seamstress, the two of them has designed a perfect dress. It was both modern, avoiding the excessive overflowing look of a lot of traditional bridal gowns, yet still it captured the wedding look I desired. It was made of smooth silky, white fabric. Sleeveless,it hung from gentle straps, wrapped closely around D---a's body, almost in the style of a kimono. A single row of small, white buttons, one after the other, made a line down the back, providing a perfectly subtle accent. The gown ended in a moderate train and the effect of the whole design was to suggest a subtle oriental flavor, as was fitting of the bride's mixed heritage. Eschewing a veil, D---a had gone with a traditional, British tiara. In it, she marched gracefully down the ailse, looking like royalty. The last of my Princess Class girlfriends, she looked the part to become my Queen. Her rich, dark hair was immaculately coifed, up off her shoulders. It gleamed in the lights. As she took her place at my side, I didn't forget to look into her eyes when we said our vows. I couldn't take my eyes off her. We donned our rings and soon were pronounced husband and wife.
D---a and I rode to the reception in the white Jaguar, sipping champagne. I was now a married man. Once we reached her mother's back garden, there was a line of guests to greet. My wife led me around to meet loads of friends and distant relatives of hers, whom I had never met before. A friend of mine from London, Pam Jones, had come and brought her almost grown, teenage children. Paula sat with Pam, as they knew each other. It took me a long time to get over to the table where Paula and Pam were sitting. Pam accused me of ignoring them. I explained that I was being dragged here and there, and that there were loads of new people for me to meet. I already knew these two women. Paula seemed a little annoyed, but she had been invited to stay at the same hotel with us, that night, and to attend an exclusive wedding breakfast the next morning, one of only two guests to be so honored. I figured Paula was just tired and continued to circulate. The food was great and I was quite happy with the caterer. Tim had not showed up, so when it was time for the speeches, Todd continued to fil in.
Todd did a fantastic job giving a wedding speech with so little notice. The only problem with it was that it contained what could have been construed as a slight insult toward Paula. Todd said something along the lines that I had finally found a woman worthy of marrying. The problem was I had previouly been dating Paula, so this made it sound like she hadn't been worthy. I cringed to myself when I heard that line and hoped that Paula hadn't noticed. Unfortunately, I think she did. The rest of the day, Paula acted a bit odd. The reception wound down and we headed to the hotel where we would spend our wedding night, the Hilton in Bracknell. Ironically, it's only half a block from where I sit at this very moment. We were joined in the hotel lobby by a few select guests, for cocktails. This group included Todd, his friend, Paula, and a couple of friends of my wife. Paula and one of my wife's guests, each had a room in the same hotel, for the night, The two of them would be the only guests to join us for breakfast, in the morning. Had Tim come, he would have been inluded, but he hadn't shown up. Paula made excuses and went to her room, early. I kept thinking she was just tired. Eventually, D---a and I retired to our bridal suite for our first night as a married couple.
In the morning, we all met for breakfast. There seemed to be a tension in the air, based around Paula. She ended up snapping at me, while the rest looked away and tried to ignore it. After breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and D---a's friend made her way home. She had work Monday morning. The plan was for Puala to spend a couple of days visiting with us, then she was going to spend a few days in London, before heading back to America. That afternoon, we were suposed to attend a family barbacue at my in-laws. Paula was the only non-family member to be invited. Despite that honor, Paula became increasingly testy as the day wore on. Her hostility seemed to be soley directed at me. Suddenly, she announced that she wanted to go to London. I reminded her that she was supposed to spend a few days with us, but she insisted she wanted tl leave immediately. I pleaded with her to just wait till after the barbacue, then I would drive her to London, if that's what she wanted. She flatley refused and insisted on leaving there and then. The problem was that her luggage was back at our house, so we had to leave the barbacue, before eating, drive her back to Hook, then to the train station, then take ourselves back to my in-laws, in Windsor. This was a great inconvenience. No amount of reasoning would budge Paula and so we took her back. At our hose, she hurriedly grabbed her things and said she couldn't be friends with me anymore. Paula would only agree to my wife driving her to the station, while I waited at home. My wife dropped off a tearful Paula at our local train station, where she could catch a train to London. I still don't know what my crime was. It was almost as if she was jealous, but it was her who broke up with me. During the five and a half years I was dating Paula, I suggested, numerous times, that she and I get married, but she refused. If it bothered her seeing me marry someone else, she had only herself to blame. When she walked out that door, it was the last time I would ever see Paula again. It seemed that I had gained a wife, but lost a friend.

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It's been a little bit of a weird day, today. First, my artist friend, Jan, has been cross with me for the better part of 24 hours. Then, this morning, it seemed like my friend, Tom , was cross with me. He doesn't seem to be taking my teasing very well, at the moment. Finally, Nando snapped at me and he almost never does that. I have known Nando for over four years and he's only ever snapped at me once before. That was when he was trying to give up cigarettes and he'd gone a couple of days without smoking. He was becoming more and more irritable, as the time without a cigarette dragged on. Today, he had plenty of cigarettes and he snapped at me worse than that other time. When I asked him what was wrong, he wouldn't tell me. He even turned down an offer of a Magnum ice cream bar, tonight, and he loves those. The only thing I can think of is that there's a problem with his Mama. I hope there isn't, but he was on the phone this evening, speaking Italian.
Ironically, a couple of more distant friends, who had been a bit off with me, recently, were very nice to me today. I spent some time speaking on the phone with them. I ended up doing a very uncharacteristic thing, this afternoon. I went out shopping. I bought Jodie Marsh's autobiography. Although I enjoy reading, it was no substitute for socializing with people. I wonder why friends suddenly shut one out? It's a holiday weekend, here in the UK, and, so far, all of my social plans have fallen through. I wonder if it's my hair? I am starting to need a haircut. Could people be treating me harshly because of my hair? If I was rich, I could afford to have my hair cut more often. Maybe the reason rich people are so popular is that they can afford to keep their hair styled.


Happy Anniversary

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my blog. From humble beginnings on Bank Holiday weekend, last year, I have posted about 410 articles during the year. Those of you good at math will notice that averages out to slightly over one article per day. The practice of writing regularly has increased my confidence to the point where I'm ready to tackle bigger projects, like a book, for instance (publishers and editors, take note!). Over the course of the year, I have had no rewards other than the dedication of you, my readers. Fame and fortune have yet to find me, via my blog. I failed to win the Best of British Blog Awards, loosing out to a web cam of a chicken. I have made three offline friends through my blog and exponentially increased my social life. I have also enjoyed finding an outlet for the would be writer within me. Blogging gives me an outlet to an audience and it's knowing that audience is reading that keeps me going. Your comments and responses are greatly appreciated. Over the past year, my blog has been viewed over 25,000 times. If I received £1 per viewing, I'd be able to live off that. Sadly, that is not the case.
Don't worry, I'm not asking you lot to pay me. Over the next year, I'd not only like to see my readership double, I'd like it to increase exponentially. I'd like to have at least four times the number of readers and views by this time next year. That is a goal you can help me with. If you enjoy reading my blog, then tell your friends and family. I know some of you do that already and I thank you, but not all of you do. When my readership is large enough, I will gain greater access to interesting people to write about. Over the past year, I have met Pete Burns, been in the same room with Matt Damon, Albert Finney, director Paul Greengrass (United 93, Bourne Supremacy), Scott Glenn, and talked with Peaches Geldof. With your support, this blog can reach a critical mass, causing celebrities and politicians to take it seriously. How ironic that they will take seriously something I lace with humor. Please make it a project that each of you, over the next year, persuade at least three people to read my blog. If you can do more, great! Post a link on any forums, or websites you use. Use it as a conversation starter at parties and social functions. Even around the water cooler at work. You can say, "I was reading the Joseph in the Bracknell blog the other day, and..." This will certainly lead to you being more successful with members of the opposite sex. Imagine how much you'll impress your boss, if, during a business meeting, you speak up and say, "According to Joseph in the Bracknell..." then insert some clever business observation (WARNING! It will only impress your boss if you remember to insert the clever business observation.). At some point, if I get enough readers, the Queen will knight me.
Thank you all. I love all of you. Well, all except one and you know who you are.


Friday, May 25, 2007

A Train Going Into a Tunnel: the Black Queen Story Part 3

For the previous part of this story, see "A Long Distance Relationship: the Black Queen Story Part 2," 14 April, 2007.

Upon my return to America, from Christmas with D---a, in 1997, I was committed to marrying her. I started thinking about where I might propose. I wanted to do something different than I did when I proposed to my first fiancee, Kelly Lucas. If D---a found out, one day, that I had recycled my proposal from a previous girlfriend, I was sure she'd hit the roof. I wracked my brain, trying to come up with an idea. My inspiration came from watching the film, "Mission Impossible." The climax of the film takes place on a TGV train, between London and Paris. As far as I know, the TGV didn't run between London and Paris, but the Eurostar does! The proverbial light bulb went off in my head. I decided to propose to D---a on the Eurostar, while it travelled under the English Channel. To me, this signified our living in two different countries, so I would propose in this "international" space.
Next, I turned toward buying a ring. I wanted to get a bigger diamond than I had bought for my first fiancee. Visiting a well known jeweller in America, I picked out a stone and a setting. Once I had the ring, I set about organizing things. I suggested to D---a that we go on a trip, via Eurostar. The Eurostar only went to Brussels and Paris. Both of us had visited Paris before, so we agreed that Brussels would be the destination of choice. D---a is good at organizing things, so once I got the ball rolling, she grabbed the bit between her teeth and brought my idea to fruition (the bit between her teeth metaphor was not meant to imply that she looked like a horse...she was a beauty!). She visited her local travel agent and called me with a proposed itinerary. I let her pick the hotel, but I insisted that we should opt for "First Class" on the Eurostar. She tried to dissuade me, but I was paying for it, so I got my way.
When I flew over to London in advance of our Eurostar trip, my future father-in-law, D---a's step-father, picked me up at the airport. I was so excited about my impending proposal that I showed him the ring and took him into my confidence. For once, he did the right thing and kept my secret. On the next Friday, D---a and I took the local train from her village to London's Waterloo Station, the departure point for Eurostar. For anyone who doesn't know, Eurostar is a high-speed train, which runs between London and Continental Europe, through the Channel Tunnel. There are two classes of service, "standard" and "first." We had a Friday evening train and when we boarded, we found that our first class seats were in a virtually empty train carriage. The only other occupant was a ginger haired man, travelling on his own. The majority of Eurostar travellers go standard class. Ironically, even though there was only one other person in our carriage, he was seated in the row right in front of us. Why couldn't he be seated at the opposite end of the carriage? Despite my desire to be engaged to D---a, the nervousness set in. Even though I was an experienced proposer, I found myself hesitating, just as I had 12 years earlier, during my first proposal. I wanted to time it to occur while we were actually under the English Channel. We were moved to a seat at the end of the carriage, for our meal service. That would have been a good time to propose, away from our fellow traveler's ears, but the tables for our food were in the way and I wanted to do the whole one knee bit. After dinner, we moved back to our original seats. I kept fingering the box with the ring, in my pocket. If I didn't get on with it, we'd be out of the Channel Tunnel and the moment would be lost. I made a clumsy move to one knee, in the space between our seats and the ones in front of us. Dragging the ring box from my pocket, I asked D---a to marry me. Thankfully, she said, "yes."
The man in front of us heard everything. After I re-seated myself, he stood up abruptly and rushed off toward the other end of the train carriage. He disappeared through the door at the end and I presumed he had an urgent need to visit the toilet. I shared my theory with D---a and we both laughed out loud. After a short time, the man returned and sat down again. About five minutes later, the hostess came into the carriage and approached us. She had a bottle of champagne and informed us that the man in front of us had arranged the champagne for us. He spoke up and said he couldn't help but overhear, then offered his congratulations. We thanked him and were both over the moon about getting free champagne. We both liked our bargains. I asked the hostess to give a glass to the man. At first he graciously declined, but I insisted and he accepted. He said he planned on telling his wife about our getting engaged on the train and that she would love the story. A little while later, the hostess returned with another, unopened bottle of champagne. She presented it to us and said it was with the compliments of the train crew. Wow! Free stuff! Getting engaged has its benefits after all. We saved the second bottle to take home with us.
After our train arrived at Brussels' Midi Station, we had to take a local train to Brussels' Central station, to get to our hotel. We missed our stop at Central station, then got off at the following stop. D---a and I ran from the platform and down the stairs, then back up to another platform, to catch a train going back the other way. We were both giddy and giggling. Oh to be young and in love, in Brussels. At Central Station, we went outside and approached a taxi rank. When we gave the driver of the lead cab the address of our hotel, he said we could walk there. We were tired and it was late, in a strange city. Also, we didn't know the way, so we asked him to take us anyway. He was right. The hotel was embarrassingly close, so I gave him a generous tip. Our hotel was moderately priced, with a small, cosy, yet modern room. The location was great. Right in the old, central city of Brussels. We had a nice, quiet, relaxing weekend there. The alleys of the old city come alive at night, with dozens of restaurants putting out sidewalk tables. They even had outdoor, gas heaters, to render the temperature comfortable, even though it was the dead of winter.
On Sunday, we checked out of our hotel and caught the train back to Britain. We tried telling the train crew that we'd just gotten engaged, hoping to get another free bottle of champagne to take home. The hostess brought us free glasses of champagne, but didn't give us a bottle. The Friday night crew was definitely more generous. It didn't matter, we were engaged to be married. It was my third engagement and D---a's second, but this time, I was going through with it.

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I Almost Went Out Again

Today, at work, I overheard two catering assistants talking about going to the cinema this evening. What surprised me is that the younger one, who's in her late twenties, was talking about going out with the older one, who's older than me, I think. I have never heard of these two socializing before. So, I did what any red-blooded, ease-dropper would do. I said, "why didn't you invite me?" The younger one said she didn't think I would have been interested, because I wouldn't want to spend the money. Gosh, it's surprising how well she knows me. I let her know that I could have made an exception. They had already bought their tickets, over the internet, and it was reserved seating. Some cinemas in the UK still have reserved seating. I have never heard of one in America doing that. Because of the reserved seating, even if I bought a ticket now, I'd not be seated next to them.
Then, a lifeline appeared. The younger one said her boyfriend was supposed to be going, but he might not, as he was thinking about going away for the evening. She complained that she'd already bought his ticket. Quicker than you could say, "pushy American," I shouted out, "if he won't go, I'll go." Now, I had no expectation that my offer would be taken seriously, but the young one said she would call me if he decided not to go. She took my mobile number. The film they were going to see was "Pirates of the Caribbean III." I admitted I hadn't seen II yet. The young one informed me that Pirates II is available on Sky Box Office, on pay-per-view. In theory, I could go home, watch II, then go with them to see III. They are going to the 10PM show. This was getting expensive.
For the next few hours, I thought excitedly about the prospects for this evening. I hadn't been to a movie since I went to see, "Curse of the Golden Flower," with Tom. and I hadn't been with a group in years. Then, around two in the afternoon, the young one walked into the plate room, where I was working. She told me that her boyfriend had decided to go after all. All of the sudden, I was out on my tushy! I had been struggling with discomfort, because I wanted to go back to the pub I went to last Friday night, but I also wanted to go to the cinema. Now, I had no prospects of either. To make matters worse, after I got home, Nando went out for the evening. The Austrian psycho has shut himself in his room again and I'm all on my own. I've gone from a full social calendar to having nothing to do, in the blink of an eye. There's not even anything good on TV. I guess I'll watch a DVD.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Baby Shopping

I stopped at Tesco, today, on the way home. When I was at the checkout, I noticed that the couple in front of me had a young baby with them. No, this is not about shopping for babies in supermarkets. That would be cool, but this is not about that. It's about going shopping with a baby. The man was holding the tiny infant and swaying back and forth. That in itself was a bit too metrosexual for me. The woman was packing the groceries and dealing with the cashier. Observing this scene, I was struck by a fundamental question. Why the heck would you bring a baby to a supermarket? As there were two of these people, wouldn't it have been better for one to stay home, with baby, while the other did the shopping, unencumbered?
If it was a single parent, I could understand a little, bringing the baby. Although, even as a single, one could take advantage of Tesco's online shopping, order the groceries, and have them delivered. But as a couple, I see no advantages whatsoever. Not to mention that I, as a fellow shopper, didn't enjoy seeing the baby, nor the man swaying with it. His swaying was giving me vertigo. John Wayne wouldn't have swayed. I think it was Paula Cole who said, "where have all the cowboys gone?" Well, they ain't in the supermarket, pilgrim.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hitler's Nephew?

Have you noticed that I haven't been writing about my second housemate, the Austrian? We haven't been speaking to each other for almost two months, now. This started not long after he'd moved in. We were having a little debate and he cited a couple who are friends of his as a source, while discussing UK citizenship law. When I challenged his source, saying, "do you believe everything people tell you?" he flew into a rage, started swearing, and shut himself up in his room. On his way to his room, he accused me of trying to provoke him. He hasn't spoken to me since and I have returned the favor.
I have been suspicious of this strange little man since he moved in. I think he's some sort of nut and I tend to refer to him, when mentioning him to my friends, as, "the psycho." For all we know, he could be Hitler's nephew. Hitler did come from Austria, after all. He's obsessed with cleaning and once spent 45 minutes scrubbing the back of a frying pan which wasn't even his. He's reneged on paying a share of our Sky bill and regularly offers Nando a beer, while ignoring me. He's refused to use the tomatoes I gave him and spends most of his time in his room. Before, when he did speak to me, he regularly talked about the passengers on the buses he drives, describing how he'd like to commit violence upon them. If you end up on his bus, I feel sorry for you.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Praise For Some Cops

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am no fan of police. I have been known to refer to them as, "fascist stormtroopers of the state." One of the things that makes police in America better than police in the UK is that the ones in America are more willing to take bribes. The police in the UK, however, are better in as much as most of them don't carry guns. I'm not sure which I prefer, although given that I don't have much money, these days, perhaps I am better off with the gunless, UK police. As an aside, I'd like to mention that female cops in Britain look sexier in their uniforms than do their American counterparts. That's probably because the uniforms female cops wear, in Britain, is more flattering to the female form, than are the ones worn by the Americans.
My two favorite cops of all time (so far) are Peter Christ and John Perry. I like Peter, a retired Captain, because he is retired, he has the cool surname "Christ," and because he taught me anger reduction techniques. John Perry, who died in the September 11th attacks, was a good friend who got me started in acting. He appreciated the difference between victimless "crimes" and crimes in which innocent victims were harmed. I have now come across a couple of cops here, in Britain, who deserve praise. The first is Ian Redhead, Deputy Chief Constable of Hampshire. Referring to the growth in CCTV surveillance cameras ( ), Ian said:
"If it's in our villages, are we really moving towards an Orwellian situation where cameras are at every street corner?
"And I really don't think that's the kind of country that I want to live in."
I think he gets it!
While I was looking for Ian's quotes, I discovered another chap, Colin Langham-Fitt, Acting Chief Constable for Suffolk ( ). Colin expressed concern that the CCTV culture is eroding civil liberties. I think he gets it, too!
Not to be a critic who never gives praise where praise is due, I wanted to celebrate these two British cops for having the courage to speak out in favor of liberty. Now if only I could find some good looking, female cop, who thinks the same way as they do, to frisk me, then all would be right with the world. At least this corner of it.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Big Mouth Pilot

Tonight, I went to the pilot for "Big Brother's Big Mouth" (BBBM), which I had been invited to attend. Originally, I was supposed to be accompanied by Chef Anthony, but he cancelled at the last minute. Who could I get to fill in at the last minute, like this? No, not Gandhi. Gandhi's dead. My artist friend, Jan, came to mind. I sent her a text message and she called me back. This put me in an uncomfortable position. She had offered to go, originally, but I had talked down the idea, as I had already invited Anthony. Now, here I was talking up the same idea I had been arguing against, a few days ago. Somehow, I managed to sell the idea, because in the end, she agreed.
It was exciting to be at Elstree Studios. BBBM is broadcast from next door to the Big Brother House. Here I was, so close to that famous house, which I have twice auditioned to be in. So close, and yet so far. The staff were great. We waited in a room with free wine, beer, and soft drinks. Once we were on set, we taped two pilots, each with different hosts. BBBM haven't confirmed who the new host is going to be, yet. I am still sad that Russell Brand quit. He'll be a tough act to replace. The first taping was with a duo hosting. Two lads who's names I can't remember. I overheard someone say they do a children's TV show. One was tall and ginger, while the other one was short, with brown hair. I found them distinctly unfunny. It seemed like they were trying too hard. Their gags were a bit over the top, kind of like you see on children's TV.
The second taping was with Peaches Geldof, daughter of music legend, Sir Bob Geldof. Peaches was less experienced than the previous two, but she seemed more genuine. If it's between her and them, I hope she gets it. After the show, I was wracking my brain, trying to come up with a good idea for a replacement for Russell Brand. Obviously, I would be great, but they don't have the balls to go for me. Who might they accept who is good? Suddenly, it came to me...Opal Bonfante! She has TV presenting experience and is genuinely funny. Hot and funny is a good description. Besides, she already works for Endemol, the same company that produces "Big Brother." I've sent her a message, suggesting that she try for it. I am looking forward to doing BBBM when the series starts, in nine days. Then, instead of just free drinks, they will have free food as well.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Artist of the Week: Mutya Buena

This week, it gives me great pleasure to select Mutya Buena as my Artist of the Week. Formerly of the successful British girl group, Sugababes, Mutya has embarked on a solo career. Her first single from her upcoming solo album, "Real Girl," is the title track. It's due out next Monday, the 28th of May, with the album to follow in June. The video has started getting airplay on the video channels and I've even heard the song on radio. It's already reached 11th in the charts, based only on downloading. I have been waiting months for the release of her solo material and I'm happy to say that I'm not disappointed.
It was Mutya who got me interested in Sugababes to begin with. The synthesis of a combination of genes from her Irish mother and Filipino father, her beauty is seasoned with an exotic flavor, which finds particular expression in her eyes. When I first saw her in the video for "Round Round," when she was still with Sugababes, I was hooked. When I heard she was pregnant, I did feel sad. The news of her leaving Sugababes was even worse. What a relief to have her back in the charts. I hope that "Real Girl" is merely the first in a long line of hits, so Mutya will be performing for us for many years to come. Check her out on Myspace, at: . This accolade is just in time for her 22nd birthday. Happy birthday, Mutya.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Attempting to be Social

This morning, I had an audition/interview for a reality TV show. My call time was 8AM, in central London. Earlier in the week, my artist friend, Jan, invited me to go with her to a house warming party that a friend of hers was having. At my suggestion, Jan agreed to go with me to the audition, then we would stay in London and go to the party. At first, I thought the party would be at night. We discussed what to do during the day, until the party. I suggested getting together with Tom, while Jan advocated going to some art exhibit or museum. Maybe we could do both. This morning, Jan informed me that the party was running from Noon until the night time.
When Jan arrived, early Saturday morning, there was some initial confusion over who was going to drive. Jan has a more economical car than I do, so I thought she should drive. She expected I would drive. I don't think she was thrilled about driving in London. I offered to drive her car, but she wasn't in favor of that alternative. Finally, I persuaded her that it would be better if she drove, as it would cost us half as much in petrol using her car, as it would mine. As she had arrived at my house early, she helped herself to some of Nando's coffee, while I finished getting ready. As is often the case, I was later than I intended, so when I was ultimately ready to leave, I was in a hurry. We pulled off thirty minutes later than I had originally intended. We had no cushion left if anything went wrong.
When we were about two miles down the road, Jan remembered that she'd left the directions to her friend's new flat in her A to Z atlas, in my house. She had originally removed the atlas from her car, because she thought we would be going in my car. She must have put it down someplace while she was having coffee and when I came downstairs, rushing to leave, she forgot it. Given how late it was, I informed her that it was too late to go back for it. Jan informed me that she had her friend's phone number and would just call him and ask for the address again. That problem seemed to be solved.
Traffic was light going into London so early on a Saturday morning. We arrived at the location for the audition with a few minutes to spare. There was no parking on the street the building was on, so Jan agreed to drop me off, then go look for parking. I crossed the street and walked to the appropriate address. There was one guy waiting outside. I went in, but a security guard told me to wait back outside. The guard followed me out and told the other fellow and myself to start a queue (line) down the side of the building. I was the second person in line. Soon, we were joined by a couple of women. The guard told us they wouldn't open the doors until 10AM. It was only a few minutes past 8. I sent Jan a text, warning her of the anticipated delay. I suggested she go find something to do and I would text her when I was finished.
When the auditions finally got started, we were led inside, seated in a room, and given paperwork to fill out. After I handed in my completed paperwork, a woman yelled at me, "I know you." She turned out to be fellow blogger and Myspace friend, Mucky Sarah. What a coincidence! We'd never met face to face, before, nor had either of us known that the other was applying to be on the series. We had only read each other's blogs and emailed each other on the net, previously. She told me I bore a striking resemblance to her father, which wasn't necessarily the best news. Sarah and I went through the rest of the process together. When we were about to do our final interviews, she suggested we have lunch together. I agreed, subject to the proviso that she had no objection to Jan joining us.
By the time we were both finished, it was around 1PM. I sent Jan a text. It turned out that Jan had gone to the British Museum, to entertain herself while I was auditioning. I told Jan that we would walk to the museum and meet her there, then Sarah and I set off. Once we caught up to Jan outside the British Museum, the three of us discussed where to eat. Sarah wanted somewhere inexpensive, which suited me and Jan just fine. Jan suggested we go to Mr. Wu, the all-you-can-eat buffet she and I tried after attending the world premier of "Traffic WARden" (see "Attending the World Premier," May 7, 2007). We all agreed and I asked the women if they wanted to take the Tube to Chinatown. They preferred walking, so off we went. My mother is always saying I should walk more. I was certainly doing my share today.
At Mr. Wu, we ate our fill. Sarah and I share an interest in talk radio, so we got onto the subject of radio presenters. Bill Buckley, Mike Mendoza, James Max, Chris Hawkins, Steve Allen, and Opal Bonfante came up in the conversation, amongst others. We also talked about Sarah's ambitions to be a writer. I told Sarah she's already a writer, as she writes a blog ( After a relaxing lunch, we walked back towards where Jan had parked her car. Eventually, Sarah parted company with us. Jan told me that she'd not been able to get in touch with her friend who's having the party. Apparently, he wasn't answering his phone and hadn't returned the voicemail she'd left. She seemed happy to forget about the party, but I wasn't. I get to go to so few parties and this one was going to be attended by a number of astrophysicists, and I know so few of them. I urged her to keep trying. Meanwhile, I called my friend Tom. Tom didn't answer either, although I left a message. Faced with such a lack of prospects, Jan advocated going to the Haywood Gallery, to see Anthony Gormley's "Blind Light" exhibition. Reluctantly, I agreed. She'd been patient with me, so I thought it only appropriate to defer to something she wanted to do.
Anthony Gormley is a British sculptor, currently exhibiting at the Haywood, located on London's Southbank, near Waterloo Station. Recently, Jan had persuaded me to watch a documentary about the bloke. I was underwhelmed by him, on the documentary and I was underwhelmed by the exhibit. Once we'd both had enough, Jan came out with a new suggestion: going to see Blue Man Group. I had suggested that we go with Jan's daughter to see the show, but after a quick phone call, Jan was able to verify that her daughter had already seen it. Having my main objection overcome, I agreed and we set off for the West End of London, via the Tube.
At Waterloo Station, Tom called me back, on my mobile. I invited him to join us for Blue Man Group, but Tom declined. In Leicester Square, we got tickets from a discounted ticket broker. The next show started at 9PM. It was only a few minutes past 7. Blue Man Group is playing at the New London Theatre, on Drury Lane. At my suggestion, we walked to Drury Lane. Once we'd found the theatre, we sat at a table outside a pub, to kill time before the show. Jan was hungry, but I was still full from lunch. She ordered chips and onion rings for us to snack on. As we sat, I noticed a number of Freemasons wondering through the neighborhood. I nursed one beer, then it was time to go to the theatre.
If you haven't seen Blue Man Group, I highly recommended them. Their show combines music, comedy, and art, and is also very interactive. Their run at the New London theatre is due to end on 24th June, so if you haven't seen them yet, I would, quickly. Even though I had seen them before, in Las Vegas, I still found the idea of seeming them again appealing. Once the show was over, we went home. I was very disappointed that we'd missed out on the party at Jan's friend's flat. Meeting Muckey Sarah almost made up for it.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Nando's Birthday.

At the pub, I was introduced to several of Jan's friends. I had hear about these people and some of them had heard about me. I finally got to meet Olwen, who I had herd about a lot. She had even heard about me. I met a Ripley, who was a refugee from Finland. There was a dark Hardy lass, by the door, going by the name of Lynn. Lynn looked a lot like Jan's daughter, except she had darker hair and was older. When Lynn found out about my blog, she insisted that I write about her. I explained to her that I needed to know stuff about her, before I could write about her effectively. She suggested I make things up, deliberately, avoiding a few problems. Sorry, I just don't make stuff up!

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Going To the Dogs

Yesterday, Chelsea Football Club Manager, Jose Mourinho was arrested at his West London home. His crime? Obstructing police and rabies inspectors, who'd come to his home to put his dog in quarantine. "Authorities" suspect the dog was brought back from Portugal, Mourinho's homeland. Jose insists the dog was bought here, in England. Mourinho was later released without charge, being let off with a warning. The dog is still on the lamb. Britain has very strict anti-rabies legislation and dogs from abroad must be quarantined, or get one of the new doggie passports.
This is the state of policing in the UK, these days. It's not as if there aren't any serious crimes to contend with, yet the police are repeatedly wasting their time over nonsense. Just the other day, Chris Tarrant, host of ITV's, "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire," was arrested on suspicion of assault, for allegedly throwing a piece of cutlery at a member of the public, while dining at an Indian restaurant. When famous people like these are subjected to these time wasting arrests, how much of the taxpayer's money is being wasted? What is the carbon footprint of arresting the millionaire, Jose Mourinho? Thank goodness the pooch remains at large.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Big Mouth?

I have been invited to a pilot of this years "Big Brother's Big Mouth," (BBBM) next week. I am very excited to be involved with the show, as I have been watching it for a couple of years. Last year, I acted as the "unofficial" Big Brother correspondent on Bill Buckley's radio show, on LBC 97.3FM, London. I have auditioned to be a contestant on "Big Brother," for the past two years, but producers still haven't recognized the potential in me as a housemate. Bringing my big mouth to BBBM may be the next best thing. It's too bad that Russell Brand won't be hosting, this year, as I found him very funny and perfectly suited to the show. I wonder who the new host will be? Of course, it should have been me, but we need to get past that now. I was asked if any of my friends would also like to do BBBM and, after much discussion with said friends, I decided to bring Chef Anthony along with me to the pilot. He has even a bigger mouth than I do. Anthony's been one of my most vocal supporters of my show business career, such as it is, so far. It's nice to be able to reward him with this opportunity. Also, he might split the petrol costs, with me, of going to the studio. My first "Big Brother" prediction, this year? I think they will have a housemate with a physical handicap, possibly someone in a wheelchair. You read it here first.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Praise For Gordon Ramsay

Tonight, I was watching TV with Nando and he was planning to watch "The F Word," starring Gordon Ramsay. If you live outside the UK and don't know who Gordon Ramsay is, he's a celebrity chef. He gave up an early football career after a couple of injuries curtailed his prospects. He hosts "Hell's Kitchen," in America, as well as "The F Word," here in the UK. Another series he has hosted in Britain is "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares." Nando likes to watch "The F Word." One reason is most likely because Nando, himself, works as a chef. I also think Nando admires Gordon because of Ramsay's early football career. Nando loves football and also had his own prospects in the game cut short at an early age. My Italian housemate probably identifies with Gordon Ramsay.
I have watched a number of episodes of "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" and "The F Word," mainly because Nando had them on. I found both series entertaining, probably because I have been working in restaurants, over the past two years. For me, working in the restaurant is not a career choice, but just something I do to earn money. When Nando announced that he was going to watch "The F Word," my initial reaction was to go upstairs and go on the internet. However, when I heard a promo for the show, on the tele, I quickly changed my mind. What enticed me to a change of appetite? I heard that Girls Aloud were going to be on this episode. Everybody in the world knows I love Girls Aloud, except, probably, Girls Aloud. Besides, I have a lot of inertia and watching the program meant I could stay slumped on the settee, rather than get up and climb the stairs.
I was a little disappointed that only Cheryl Cole and Kimberley Walsh, from Girls Aloud, seemed to be appearing on camera. In fairness to Cheryl, I must say that she looked fabulous. When Cheryl told Gordon that she is a vegetarian, Ramsay jokingly responded, "didn't you get the message? Vegetarians are not welcome." The wide-eyed look on Cheryl's face was priceless. I suspect that most of the problems in the world are caused by vegetarians. When the Girls were not on screen, I alternated between monitoring the show and skimming the newspaper. Suddenly, Nando erupted into speech, like one of Vesuvius' explosions, near his hometown of Naples. If Nando was like Vesuvius, I was like Pompeii, caught unprepared for his vocal outflow. "Gordon Ramsay is the best chef in the UK," my Italian co-resident pronounced.
Quickly overcoming my shock that Nando actually spoke, un-prompted, I shot from the hip with a response, saying, "what about Jamie Oliver?"
Nando said, "Jamie Oliver is good, but not as good as Gordon Ramsay. The thing about Oliver is he can sell anything, but Gordon Ramsay is the best. Besides Ramsay and Jamie Oliver, all the rest they are crap! He used to play football, you know?" Nando probably forgot that he'd told me that before. Janet Street-Porter did a story for this episode of "The F Word," on horse meat. Other than that, it was all horses for courses. So far, none of the single members of Girls Aloud has contacted me, oddly enough.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Supermarket Reunion

My artist friend, Jan, came over to see me, Sunday. I think this was partially motivated by a desire to see how I was doing after my hospitalization, last week. I was happy for the visit, because Nando, my racist, Italian housemate, was working on Sunday. Jan actually got me out of the house, which is a rare thing on a Sunday, when I don't have an audition, nor acting work. She wanted lunch and I had some meat, but no bread to make sandwiches. Worse still, I was out of cole slaw. Jan offered to drive me to Tesco and that was an offer I couldn't refuse. I directed her to the bigger Tesco, on the far side of Bracknell. I hadn't been there for a long time, as I have taken to stopping at the even larger Tesco in Sandhurst, on the way home from work.
When we got there, I discovered some things had changed since my last visit. The first thing I noticed was part of the car park was dug up. That doesn't really help the parking situation. Inside the store, the management had undertaken a program of rearranging the layout of the store. This seems to be a common problem affecting a number of stores in the Tesco chain. As the change was in progress, there was confusion and parts of sections were split amongst two different locations. As we wandered about the store, I saw what looked like a familiar back and side of someone's head. It was my friend and former co-worker, Russell Davidson. He's also a friend on Myspace. I looked for Jan, who kept wandering off, to introduce her. She's previously found Russell's comments on my blog very funny. This was their first time meeting in real life.
Russell and I talked for a while, then he needed to finish his shopping. I have been saying that I want to get to the point with my acting where I am recognized in Tesco. This wasn't quite what I had in mind. I meant recognized by strangers who want my autograph, or want to tell me useless things about themselves, or even who want to touch my monkey. I had lost Jan again. I tend to go through a supermarket in a very methodical way, starting from one end, then going up and down each aisle, one after another, till I reach the other end. Jan, on the other hand, seems to have an approach that reminds me of a drunken walk. It careens this way and that, with lots of doubling back on itself. Appropriately, I found her in the wine section. She had talked herself into buying herself some wine. Her interest in drink is similar to my friend Tom's. "You, me, and Tom should go shopping together," I said to her. Although Tom and Jan have communicated through Myspace and on the phone, they have yet to meet face to face.
Once Jan had finished her gathering, I led us towards the checkout tills. Ironically, straight ahead of us, as we came to the end of the aisle we were in, was none other than Corazon, the Heart of Tesco. I don't remember seeing Corrie since Christmas. I pointed out Corrie to Jan and prepared to introduce her, but Jan made a lateral move to a parallel till. She thought this would be quicker, as we could both check out at the same time. I was more interested in having her meet Corazon. I wasn't in a hurry. It was Sunday, after all. Corrie said she was surprised I remembered her name. Of course I would remember, she's previously been a star of my blog (see "Heart Stopping Supermarket Checkout," July 31, 2006 on blogspot; July 26, 2006 on Myspace). While we were talking, Jan came over, as she'd finished her checking out ahead of me. In the end, I did get a chance to show Jan Corazon, after all. It was great to encounter Russell, Jan, and Corazon, all at the same time. Maybe next time, you'll be there as well.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Tale of Three Auditions

Last Sunday night, I had an audition for a new, original play, which is to be performed in northwest London, at the end of this month. This was the first audition I have had for theatrical acting in twenty-one years. I only received the script early on Friday morning. I felt unsure how to prepare. I tried contacting Bill Buckley, the LBC radio presenter (97.3 FM, London), because he's experienced in such matters and has been helpful to me before. Unfortunately, Bill was away that weekend. I wasn't too worried about not getting the part, I just didn't want to make a fool out of myself during the audition process. Not having the benefit of formal training in drama, I am usually fine with film and television auditions. This was different. This was theatre and I would be facing people who had training and experience.
I arrived at the location for the audition early. Sitting in my car, I went over the script as much as I could. When it was close to my call time, I went inside. I found one woman waiting, ahead of me. There was already one hopeful inside and we could hear him through the closed door. Things seemed to be running late. The woman ahead of me seemed impatient and kept looking at her watch, then tutting. Soon, it was her turn. I move up a seat and sat next to the door to the room the auditions were taking place in. Remaining quiet, I could make out little snippets of what was being said inside. I strained to pick up any clue as to what I would face in the room. In due course, another person showed up. He looked like his family was from southwest Asia. We made small talk until it was my turn.
Inside the room, I was introduced to the playwright and the director. They put me at ease and offered me a drink of water, or orange juice. I can have water at home, so I selected the orange juice. I read for my part twice, with the director and the playwright joining in. The second time they asked me to attempt a Welsh accent. Oh dear! That seemed a bit difficult. The audition seemed to go well and they said they'd let me know the next day. I walked out hopeful, but the next day, my hopes were dashed.
I had a busy audition week lined up. Tuesday evening, I was scheduled to audition for a short film. More keen to get the film role, I tried hard to prepare. Nothing prepared me for what happened. I never made it to the audition, as I was admitted to the hospital that morning (see "Going to the Hospital," Wednesday 9, May, 2007). After spending the night in the hospital, I managed to get out the next day. I tried contacting the casting person for the film, to see if I could audition on a different day, but she informed me that the role was already filled.
I had one more chance and that was on Wednesday night. There was a comedy talent search being held, in London. Once I arrived home from the hospital, I had a nap, then showered. I felt better and headed into central London. At the venue, I discovered there were close to 100 hopefuls signed up to perform. I added my name to the list, then began to prepare myself mentally. There was no audience, other than the people waiting their turn to perform, a camera crew, and some industry professionals, acting as judges. We were allotted three minutes each. Getting a laugh out of this crowd would be an achievement. Because I arrived a little late, I wasn't performing until the end of the night. The advantage in this was I got to listen to the majority before it was my turn.
After we performed, we learned that there was a prize for the "winner." One winner was selected from the female and one from the male. I won't keep you in suspense, I didn't win. At least I got some laughs. Trying to be objective, I decided that I had probably been in the top third. The winners were given a £500 production budget, each. Surely the talent search wasn't a means just to pass out those two modest prizes? I drove home with a spark of hope. I had been required to leave my contact details, in case the production company wanted to contact me in the future. So far, no call, but you never know.

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Artist of the Week: Booty Luv

This week, my artist of the week is the British, dance music group, Booty Luv. Booty Luv is comprised of Cherise and Nadia. The two girls started out as part of the group, Big Brovaz, before striking out on their own, this year. Their first single, "Boogie 2Nite," reached number two in the UK Singles chart. Their second single, "Shine," is released tomorrow, although the video has been getting play on the music video channels for several weeks. I liked "Boogie 2Nite" and I like "Shine" even more. The girls look great, showing lots of leg in their videos. You can check them out on Myspace, at: . I expect their new single will shine in the charts. Listening to it makes me feel like going clubbing.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Robot Nurses (Part 4 of the Hospital Saga)

I awoke from my nap at about 5:30PM, Tuesday. Jan still hadn't returned from her mission to bring me some stuff from my house. I began to worry that she'd gotten lost again, or something else had happened to her. She had been gone about two hours on a journey that should have taken no more than an hour. As it was Nando's day off, maybe they exploded into an irresistible lust for each other. Come on! Shag later guys, I need my stuff. I couldn't imagine Nando exploding into anything. If he could roll downhill into lust, then it might happen. Besides, I don't think Jan finds Nando attractive in that way. Still, one never knows. The main reason I was in a hurry was that I was due at an audition for a short film, at 6PM. If Jan returned with my email from the casting person, I could call her and explain why I wasn't coming. I hoped I could reschedule. I get so few auditions, I don't want to blow one. In my mind, it seemed important to notify the casting lady before my call time.
I sat up, on the edge of the bed. The fat nurse had told me that I shouldn't walk around, so if I needed to use the toilet I was to do it in a bedpan, instead of going to the loo. Yeah, right! I guess she doesn't know me that well. If I got up and walked to the loo, would any of the nurses at the ward nurse's station stop me? Would they even notice? A strong urge to take a piss pushed me past the boundaries of indecision. I had forgotten that fat nurse had insisted that I put on some special stockings, designed to prevent blood clotting in the legs while one lays in bed. I didn't bother to put on the flip-flops I wore to the hospital. It would be quieter to walk in just my stockinged feet. Bold as brass, I stood up and walked out of the room. The opening was right next to the nurse's station. Two of the NHS's finest robots sat there, chatting away. They reminded me of the two Stormtroopers in "Star Wars," who were gossiping while Obi-Wan Kenobi sneaked past to disable the tractor beam. Yeah, I liked that idea. Here I was, Obi-Wan Kenobi, sneaking to the toilet in his stockinged feet.
Once I had relived myself, I crept back to bed 21. I lay there, with nothing better to do than wonder what was keeping Jan. A few minutes later, I heard her voice, asking the NHS robots where I was. Finally! I looked at the time display on the flat screen above my bed. It was 5:45, just 15 minutes before my audition call time. Jan came around past the curtain that separated the creature in the bed to the right of mine, from me. To my left was a window, which I enjoyed, even though it only provided me a view of the side of a building. Jan had brought everything on my list expect one item...a pen. I hurried to look at the email print out. Scanning it, I couldn't find a phone number. I re-read it, more carefully. There was no phone number. I couldn't call the casting person. I could email her, later. Jan got it into her head to ask one of the robots if I could use her computer to send an email, now. I told her not to, but then Jan has this knack for going ahead and doing things that I have asked her not to do. It's a trait I admire, when she does it to other people, but one over which I feel annoyed, when she does it to me. Taking the email, she went out to speak with the robots. It all seemed rather pointless. With the audition starting in ten minutes, the casting person is hardly going to be reading emails. If she was going to find out after the session, then the next day would be just as good as that moment.
Jan returned, having succeeded with her powers of persuasion. She'd been much more successful with the robot nurses than I had been with the beautiful, Indian doctor lady. She'd gotten one of the robots to email the casting person, on my behalf, explaining that I was "in hospital," as the British like to say. I was feeling very hungry, as all I had eaten thus far, that day, was the poncy sandwich and biscuits that fat nurse had given me, four and a half hours earlier. In addition to the things Jan had brought me that were on my list, she'd gotten me a Cadbury's Fruit and Nut bar, as an extra treat. I tore into the chocolate taste treat like a famished, wild animal, while Jan was away talking to the robots. It didn't last long, as it was only a small bar, but it took the edge off my hunger. The next order of business was to get my TV turned on. I phoned Patientline and paid for the service, using the financial resources that resided in my wallet, which Jan had brought. I may have been missing the audition, but at least I wouldn't miss "Eastenders," that night. No sooner had I turned the TV on, than a nurse came around, offering me dinner. I wish she'd turned up a few minutes earlier, before I demolished the Cadburys bar. I would have preferred saving the treat till later. As she read the menu out to me, it seemed to mostly consist of sandwiches. She had mentioned something about sausages, in the beginning. Interrupting her robotic recitation, I asked, "are all of these sandwiches?" She told me the first item was hot food. Sausage and mash, a traditional British dish. While not usually my first choice, I wanted a hot meal, not just another sandwich, so I opted for the sausage.
Jan explained that she had a meeting to attend, about this open studio exhibition she was supposed to be participating in. If she was going to the meeting, she would have to leave. She didn't feel like going, so I asked her if she could get the information which would be presented at the meeting, later. When she agreed that she could, I suggested that she skip the meeting and stay visiting me. She could use me as an excuse, telling the people holding the meeting that she had to visit a sick friend, in the hospital. Jan seemed genuinely pleased at the suggestion and went to move her car to free parking on a side street. The parking in the hospital car park was expensive. My dinner arrived just as Jan got back from relocating her car. I tucked into the bland meal with the enthusiasm bred of hunger. Feeling a tiny bit guilty for chowing down in front of my only visitor, I got the robot who offered me tea or coffee to give a cup of coffee to Jan. Anyway, I don't like coffee.
I persuaded Jan to watch "Eastenders" with me. Because the sound was coming over a headset, so as not to disturb the other patients, we shared the headset, turning it upside down and each putting one phone to one of our ears. On Tuesdays, "Eastenders" finishes at 8PM, which was also the time visiting hours ended. I said farewell to the only visitor I was ever to have during my entire hospital stay. At least I had TV to keep me company. The Patientline service also included some video games. I got addicted to a version of Tetris, alternating between playing it, reading, and watching TV. Eventually, I dozed off, only awakening again just past 11:30PM. The only thing worse than unattractive, female, robot nurses, was a male robot nurse, as the night nurse. He came over to engage in the ritual of taking my temperature and blood pressure. This one was named Mowbry and came from South Africa. Earlier, a female robot nurse had left a menu for the next day's lunch and dinner. On the back I read that one could have snacks at any time, by asking a member of staff. I read this passage out to Mowbry, as I was feeling a bit hungry. He refused to understand and kept telling me that there were printed explanations on the back in order to answer patients' questions. I ended up giving up. That Cadbury Fruit and Nut would have come in handy, then. I played the video game until I felt sleepy. The person in the bed next to mine had the oddest snore I have ever heard.
In the morning, I woke up and went back to playing the video game. The first attractive nurse I had seen showed up. She was skinny, with curly red hair and small breasts. She had a sweet face, with sparkling eyes. I asked her where she was from. It turned out that she was from Prague. I told her I had visited Prague, because I have and I thought it might win her over. Prague nurse offered me breakfast. No eggs were on offer, so I settled for some bran cereal, buttered toast, and some orange juice. After breakie, a group of doctors turned up, making the rounds. Amongst them was the beautiful, Indian doctor lady. I looked at her hand for a ring. She wore some silver ring, which didn't look like a traditional wedding ring, but then I don't know what the traditions are in India. She seemed to dress like a married woman...descent, but not as sexy as she was capable of. Indian doctor lady seemed to be deferring to some tall, dark haired, pale, English doctor, who acted like he was the boss. They discussed my condition. I didn't see what use he was. Indian doctor lady was more than capable of treating me, thank you very much. Tall doctor informed me that they would be removing the pack from my right nostril, then seeing if there was any further bleeding. If necessary, they would cauterize. In other words exactly what Indian doctor lady had told me they would do.
A little while later, a Scottish nurse came around. She removed the pack. I expected it to tear open the wound and the bleeding to start again, but that didn't happen. She gave me a small ice pack to put on my nose. I held it to my nose until I got tired of doing so. Still no bleeding. I was pleasantly surprised when Indian doctor lady turned up, wearing scrubs. She still looked so pretty, even with that ghastly surgical cap hiding her luscious, dark brown hair. No longer able to contain myself, I told her she was the nicest looking doctor I had ever met. She smiled as if she was blushing (I couldn't tell if she was blushing as her skin was rather brown) and thanked me. Her face displayed a combination of pleasure at being complimented and embarrassment. She examined my nose, shining some light up my right nostril. Doctor lady decided to cauterize a spot in my right nostril. She wasn't sure it had been the source of the bleeding, but thought it would be best not to take a chance. After spraying some local anesthetic in my nose, she employed a chemical cauterization stick. There was a slight delay, then I felt a burning sensation. She said she would keep me in till about lunch time, then, if there was no further bleeding, I could go home. I hoped I would get to eat lunch before I left.
After a while, the Scottish nurse came back and disturbed me while I was playing the video game again. She was oldish and manly looking. She complained that I needed to walk around, so they could see if my nose would start bleeding again. First they didn't want me to walk, now they did. Can't they make up their minds? I went for a stroll around the ward. It wasn't that big, so I ended up doubling back. Back and forth, back and forth. How dull. A different robot nurse at the nurse's station asked me if she could help me. I told her the Scottish nurse had told me to walk, so I was walking. For some reason, this robot nurse, who was English, somehow misunderstood what I said and thought that I was waiting for someone parking a car. Odd woman. I tried explaining again. This time, she understood. She said I had been walking for ten minutes already and that was enough. I was happy to go back and get in bed. At lunch time, I opted for chicken fricassee over rice. The food was so bland and no pepper was available, but desperation rendered it palatable. After lunch, Scottish nurse came around and asked if there was any bleeding. There wasn't. She told me I could go. I was being discharged. It was almost sad. I had gotten used to laying down all day and watching TV, playing video games, reading, and sleeping. She gave me the certification of my stay in hospital. Reading it, I noticed that Indian doctor lady had written that I wasn't supposed to go back to work for a week. The heck with that! I discussed it with Scottish nurse, pointing out that it seemed excessive. She said it was up to how I felt, but that at the very least, I shouldn't go back to work until Monday. I called Nando and he came to drive me home. When I turned on my mobile, I found that Tom had called and left a voicemail. Jan had told him I was in hospital. I decided to call him back later, when I was home.
Finally, I was out of the hospital and all in one piece. I didn't see why they couldn't have just cauterized my nose on Tuesday afternoon an let me go home, then. When I emailed the casting person again, she informed me that the role had been cast and I was out of luck. Checking with work, I found that the Manager hadn't gotten any cover for me. He wanted me to return to work on Thursday. Reluctantly, I agreed. requesting light duties. I then had a nap, as I was supposed to perform at a comedy talent search, in London, that night. The sleep did me good and I drove into London, happy as Larry, whoever Larry is. I wore my hospital bracelet on stage, like a badge of honor. I had survived and at the end of the day, that's the most important thing.

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