On Launch Parties…

Being in the meeja game I get invited to the odd launch party. Not really cool ones with Cheryl Cole or Kate Moss or anything like that.  On any given night in London there are dozens of these events and you could actually get drunk on cheap champers and eat canapes every night of the week if you had the energy to turn up to them.  And you normally get a goody bag which is good for vomiting in if you have had too much cheap champers. The contents of goody bags are notoriously not good and usually consist of a book that nobody wants and some rubbish money off vouchers.

I remember once being sandwiched between Jodie Marsh and Cynthia Payne in a Soho cellar which is a sentence I never thought I would type.  Cynthia gurgled scotch, told me funny stories and signed a napkin which said ‘for services rendered’. Jodie was less entertaining than Cynthia and was wearing what looked like a couple of belts. I was disappointed because on the telly she looks like fun but she wasn’t up for mindless chatter. Plus she’s orange.

J Marsh

J Marsh

C Payne

C Payne

I once went to a party and met Dean Gaffney.  In 2005 Dean went to everything.  They said he would go to the opening of an envelope.  People were pretty cruel about the East Enders star but i thought he seemed to be a good natured young bloke who was quite reasonably enjoying his recently discovered fame.  Anyway, he was considered very Z list and if he turned up to a party it could have a detrimental effect on the brand throwing the bash.  So you would hear comments around the water cooler like:

‘was that party any good last night?’  ‘ nah mate, it was a bit Gaffney.’ In the end I suspect he stopped getting invited to stuff.

D Gaffney

D Gaffney

One time I was at a launch and through a freind managed to get invited into the VIP area.  This is the roped off bit where the slebs can sit and drink and not be bothered by the public, which tends to happen when the public are pissed in a bar.  British Reserve goes out the window and celeb baiting is the sport of choice.  Jodie and Dean were there although I can’t say they remembered me because I’m not famous.  A nervous PR came in and said “we have a problem, the cast of The Bill have turned up could all the non-famous people get out of the VIP area so we can fit them all in.”  So I left and joined the public.  The Bill all trundled in, had a drink and then buggered off again after five minutes.  At which point non famous folk were allowed back into the cordoned off bit.

The Cast of The Bill

The Cast of The Bill

Last night was the Zenith.  At 7pm I found myself in Kettners in Soho for the launch of a new Laser Lipo machine.  It’s a machine that zaps fat without having to have surgery.  I’m not sure where the fat goes and I felt stupid asking so I’m afraid it’s going to remain a mystery. Perhaps it drips out of your ears.  It sounds like a dream product though.  I mean you can dial in a pizza, flick on a movie and strap on  this lipo machine and your moobs will vanish by the time the credits are rolling.  Anyway, very kind to be invited and thanks to the folks at Laser Lipo who have a sure fire winner on their hands.  And you’re saying to yourselves : come on then what celebs were there???:

1. Nick Ferrari – a radio presenter apparently.

2. Sally Farmiloe – famous for, er, shagging Jeffrey Archer.  really

3. Cindy Jackson – Guiness world record holder for person with most most plastic surgery. American. A “personality”. in MENSA – so not bimbo.

I pine for Gaffney & Marsh and them good old days when slebs were slebs.

on being seduced by a teacher…

Can we make one thing absolutely clear here.  Teachers seducing children = bad.  I have two of the little cherubs and Mrs Bloke takes them into school every morning on the understanding that teachers are going to teach them stuff and not text them at home, try to chat them up on facebook or take them out on a candle lit dinner, ply them with Pinot Grigio and talk about how beautiful the moon looks.

Reminds me of school

Reminds me of school

But, can we have a bit of honesty here – and lets face it, that’s what this is all about here at The Bloke, being a bit honest.  Can any of you chaps out there remember what it’s like being a 15 year old boy?  Can you remember the testosterone screaming through your veins, the frantic need for you and your buddies to ‘pop your cherry’ and the complete absence of anyone who will let you ‘pop your cherry’ anywhere near them?  Do you remember the awe in which you held your friends who had managed to ‘do it’?  And can you imagine, just for a second if your RE teacher (aged 39) flirted with you and then seduced you.

Would you:

a) think it’s the best day, ever!  Like Christmas to the power of 10. Like getting a new Chopper and Grifter all rolled into one.

b) be traumatised and call the police.

Of course we don’t want our teachers seducing pupils and curiously when you flip it in reverse and have male teachers seducing 15 year old girls it suddenly becomes very unpalatable.  We all have to live by one set of rules, that’s how our world works and that’s how order is retained but sometimes you read a story and look through it and think, hmmmm.

THE BLOKE follows the Murdochs and *charges* for content.

Now we’ve been looking at this internet malarkey for a couple of years and we have to agree with Rupert Murdoch that we can’t be giving all this brilliant content away for free.  I mean something has to give. You know, there needs to be a quid pro quo here.  I’m spending all this time giving you my opinion on stuff and you’re just taking it all.  Not giving anything back.  There’s no ‘quo’ bit to our relationship here.

The Murdoch family

Like Rupert I have a few kids and a pretty wife who likes shoes and holidays and we need to find a way to pay for all this stuff.  All those other gutless media corporations out there have remained largely silent on the matter but The Bloke Corp has made the bold decision to step up to the plate and stand shoulder to shoulder with The Murdochs. Although we won’t quite go as far as condeming the BBC because they do great stuff like The Wire and Radio 4 (apart from The Archers, Sunday Worship and that really smug woman on Saturday morning who is far too pleased with herself.  Oh, and Sandy Toksvig who is also far too pleased with herself) and their kids TV output which isn’t packed with adverts for plastic shit that will be in the charity shop by February.

Sorry, wondered off there on one a little bit.  But back to business – we’re together with James and his Dad.  From 1st October The Bloke is going to charge for content.  It’s an honesty based system that I’m hoping is going to work well for all of us.  Everytime you visit the site all you need to do is simply log a reply with your email address and I’ll send you a bill at the end of every month for how many times you’ve visited (based on about 25p a visit*). *subject to change without notice.

I’m hoping that this ‘payment gateway’ will enable me to continue to provide you with unrivalled up to the minute engaging content whilst helping me and my family get lots of nice things and hopefully an unhealthy share of global media ownership.

The Phrase ‘no worries’

I first came across this teeth grating phrase when I went ‘travelling’ as a youth.  I use the inverted commas because although it’s called travelling it’s really a massive pub crawl up the east coast of Australia with a stop over in Thailand undertaken by late teen kids who want to get away from mum and dad but don’t fancy entering the world of work just yet.

So you save up some money working in a gastro pub and you go travelling.  And you spend 6-12 months living almost exclusively amongst fellow brits and the odd Dutch person (who you tolerate because they always have drugs on them for some reason and are the only other nationality that gets british humour) in backpacker hotels that sell Marmite and Boddingtons to make you feel at home whilst you reverse charge call your Dad every week to see if he can wire you more money to do white water rafting.  Then you come home and proudly declare you’ve been travelling and your mind is broadened and your granny thinks you’re great.  She has visions of you as a sort of Benedict Allen figure trudging up the skeleton coast in 60 degree heat surrounded by dead bedouins.  Incidentally, apparently Benedict Allen was faced with hunger and near death in the Amazon and took out his machete and killed his loyal dog that had chosen (unwisely) to follow him on his trip and then ate him.  Now thats bloody travelling.  Not going to some pubs in Queensland and shagging a girl from Gerards Cross.

Anyway, went on this island and asked to borrow some mosquito stuff from this hippy guy.  Who says ‘no worries’ in that sort of stoned hippy speak that people who went to Public School and go to Queensland to find themselves and grow their hair long seem to adopt. To which i said ‘er, is that yes?’  he said : yes man, squirt away.

Anyway, *no worries* then spread like wildfire through the backpacker population whilst back home Neighbours had become the number one soap which meant a whole generation of students picked up the phrase and then started talking with that really annoying Australian habit of making your speech inflection go up at the end of every sentence.  And then suddenly in the early 90’s every bastard was saying No Worries. And each No Worry was like nails down a blackboard but i learnt to live with it.  Like Tony Blair.

But it seems so wildly innapropriate for a late noughties frame of mind.  I mean there are worries.  There’s loads of fucking worries.  The recession.  Our leadersbeing a bunch of lying cheating bastards (if you’ve ever had a VAT inspection you’ll know that as a member of the public you don’t get to, er, forget that you ran through £5,000 worth of moat expenses or, er, change your desingated house 3 times a year….by accident), or Prince Charles, or global warming, or the sinister death of most of the bee population, or Gordon Brown, David Cameron, The rise of the BNP, 3 million people on incapacity benefit, 8 traffic wardens for every copper (who are all indoors filling out gender complians forms), car tax, tax, tescos, school fees, gas bills, dropping your iphone down the toilet, etc etc ad finitum.

so you see the phrase should be ‘Worries’.  Hi can I borrow a your mosquito stuff : worries.

there are no longer no worries.

Things that aren’t as good as we remember them #1

The time had come for me to introduce the boy to Scalextric, the first rung on the step ladder of manhood. For this milestone I found a Mini Cooper set on eBay for twenty five quid plus postage and it arrives in just a couple of days, great transaction, five stars.

NOT as much fun as it looks

NOT as much fun as it looks

Expectation is etched on the boy’s face as I set about construction. The troublesome overlapped plastic fixings don’t seem to fit quite right and make my soft, work-in-an-office and never-done-a-hard-day’s-real-graft hands a bit sore, but who cares though. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, is what I say and Scalextric rocks. We all know that the fiddly track is the price you pay for hours of fun, right?

The figure of eight takes shape, little sturdy grey risers to keep the track elevated where they cross at the centre, crash barriers on the corners, a few flags peppered hither and yon and the classic chequered tarmac starting grid. You can almost smell the atmosphere: the high octane fuel, pert hot-panted pit girls, Bernie Ecclestone strutting around looking cross, the sheer throbbing testosterone of it all. I find myself rubbing my hands together which I generally don’t do because it makes me look like Fagin.

So the Scalextric is plugged in and I flick on the wall switch, signifying that the preparations are over and extreme mirth is imminent. Now the test. I turn over the Mini Cooper revealing the underside and take the familiar little woven wire wool connectors in my fingertips and squeeze and plump them out, raising them a few millimetres from the bottom of the car to ensure maximum energy transference from the electric rail. I last did this thirty years ago but I know it instinctively.

I turn the car back over and make connection with the track, gunning the engine with a quick burst on the trigger. The little Cooper, held firmly in my hand with rear wheels just above the track, bursts into life with the small electric motor screaming to be set free and the small boy’s eyes nearly pop out of his head at the thrill of it all. Forty-year-old man and five-year-old boy are united, functioning briefly for a snapshot in time on the same plane. We’re racing drivers.

The red and yellow cars are lined up side by side now. The boy counts down: three, two, one, GO. A surging arc of power launches the small cars forwards where they simultaneously reach top speed in an instant before meeting the first bend and leaving the track, both spiralling dramatically into the skirting. We do this six times, neither of us completing an unaided lap.

This is rubbish, Daddy, can we play Mario Karts?”

And the sentence brings me to a halt with the realisation of a blinding singular truth. The boy is right: Scalextric is crap. It doesn’t work unless you go round really slowly. That’s how you play. The winner is the most careful, the one who keeps his forefinger light, the one who represses every desire to rip the track to pieces in an orgy of speed. The maverick living for the second, hanging his ass over the raggedy edge flips out every time. What kind of fucked up message is this to give a little boy? Life needs seizing by the bollocks. Driving slowly with caution and care is what Grandma does.

What cunning mind repressing tricks do those folk at Scalextric possess that makes me forget such a fundamental shortcoming, that the cars only stay on the track if you go slowly? How had I forgotten that you spend more time putting it together than playing on it because the fucking cars come off every time.

We leave the Scalextric on the floor, not even bothering to pack it away, instead choosing to play on the Wii. Mario Carts: Mario and Luigi teaming up together to nail that bitch Peach.

I’ve said it and there’s no taking it back. It’s out. I’m Sparticus. The confrontation of the Scalextric truth has now led to the scrutiny of everything from my past that I thought was great, an analysis of my own rose-tinted nostalgia. And you know what? A lot of it really isn’t what I thought it was.