Friday, March 31, 2006

Weird name stuff

Strange... when I set up this blog I called it A Blog About Nowt because I thought that, by and large, it would be about nothing much. In truth, though, it’s less about nothing much and more about nothing in particular – but that’s by the by.

When referring to myself within the text of an entry it seems to make sense to refer to myself as Nowt, as though I am the Nowt of the blog’s title.

And yet, when I set up my profile, I opted for a symbol (just like Prince!) rather than reveal my real name. This was because if anyone ever were to find themselves here and they knew me, it might be embarrassing to find me bitching and whingeing about them. So I just selected the asterisk for no real reason.

The strange thing is the paradox: I’m both a nothing and a star by name. Guess it just shows how little thought I put into it in the first place, and how much thought (i.e. too much) I’m putting into it now.

Listening to: LIFTED or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground, by Bright Eyes


Adam Ant, Derek Jarman, and autographs

It will be 11 years next week (7 April) since I last saw Adam Ant perform live. The venue was Tower Records in London’s Piccadilly Circus, and I had taken the morning off work to be there. Two weeks previously I had been at three consecutive shows at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, too. These dates were the first opportunities I had had to see AA live, having grown up in a small town a billion miles from anywhere. Indeed, I had hoped to see him back in ’85 (?) on the Vive Le Rock tour. I would have been 15 at that time, so the likelihood was slim enough anyway, but then the majority of the tour was cancelled due to an injury sustained when AA fell during rehearsals (if memory serves). Wife, cynic that she is, would probably say it was due to poor ticket sales; she says similar things about the endless postponement of the release of new material, too. Maybe she’s right, but we true fans from way back have to keep the faith.

I remember trying to get a good view at Tower Records in order to take some photos. To do that I had to hold the camera up high, not being the tallest person in the world, so they were not that great. Still, they were better than the ones I’d taken at Shepherd’s Bush. I also snuck a tape recorder in to Tower, just as I had to the three Empire gigs, so it’s a well-documented period in my Ant fandom.

But my hopes of getting an autograph after the three-song set were dashed. The queue for the signing table was immediately enormous, and I was growing ever more aware that I needed to get back to work. I had taken with me to get signed the sleeve of my “Deutscher Girls” 7-inch, which I had previously had signed by Derek Jarman, the director of Jubilee, the film from which the song was taken. So it would have been a great addition to my collection. But I just couldn’t get there...

The Derek Jarman signing was interesting. It was held in March 1993 (I believe) at the now long-gone Dillons Art bookstore on Long Acre in Covent Garden. I was unemployed at the time, so buying a copy of his book and getting it signed was totally not an option. I asked the counter assistant if it was necessary to make a purchase, knowing that some stores insist you do. The guy said he was sure Mr Jarman wouldn’t mind. And sure enough he didn’t.

There were a lot of people present who seemed to be old friends or acquaintances of the director’s – a lot of “how are you? We really must get together some time” kind of conversations. Anyway I approached with my record sleeve, which had a still – a close shot of AA’s face – from Jubilee on the front. I said something dorky like: “I just wanted to shake the hand of the man who gave Adam Ant his first acting role.” And we shook hands. He spent a few minutes chatting with me and asked how Adam was doing and what he was up to these days, kind of as though I might have some real knowledge on the subject. He said he hadn’t seen him in years. I don’t remember what I replied exactly, but I’m sure something along the lines of “working on a new album; doing a bunch more acting”.

He was very friendly and didn’t seem at all fazed by the line of conversation; it was really as though he had time for me and not at all like signing events so often are, when you are rushed through the whole thing as quickly as possible. He signed my record sleeve as well as an article about him that had recently been published in sex magazine Forum. I still have both items in my collection. And that’s the end of this story. Jarman passed away in February of 1994.


Thursday, March 30, 2006



* ’27
† ’02


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Radiator Cat

Oh Cat, lying there by the radiator for 12 hours, won’t you teach us how to be as relaxed as you?

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The more I watch Rescue Me, the more I’m convinced that the inter-family relationships are based on my own family. That’s some scary shit.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

I feel dirty, oh so dirty

And what, you might ask, is the reason that I feel so dirty that I had to name it twice. A few nights ago, my father basically forced me to speak to his woman on the phone. To be fair to her, she was forced, too. I mean, what could I say when he asked, “Do you want to say hello to Mistress?”; likewise she, when he said: “Come and say hello to Nowt.” It was awkward, although she was pleasant (not that I expected any other); I also was pleasant, natch.

It was the first time that we had spoken to each other. I guess I’d best get used to it: there’s talk of him coming to visit (but not to stay) with her and her kids. You know how much I love kids... and these are virtually my step-siblings, and both are not even into their teenage years. Oh yuck – it’s all so horrifying. I thought I’d been spared this sort of messiness when my parents’ marriage lasted 35 years or so.

Feeling dirty is so much less fun than feeling dirrty.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It’s the weekend

Yay, American Idol tonight – with Barry Manilow, so Wife will be happy. Although we’ll have to record it and watch later so we can avoid the brazillion adverts they put in. Life is just too short. I mean, arguably it’s too short to even watch American Idol, but it’s definitely too short to watch the ads too.

And then most of the weekend will be spent working... again. This weekend, though, we’ve promised ourselves half a day off for a lovely walk in Whitstable and a cooked English breakfast. And we’ve got to squeeze in a movie too, so we can send it back to LoveFilm and maximize our expenditure. Wow, modern life is so full of, like, stuff.

Who said 30-somethings don’t know how to live it up?


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Do unto others

So I sent a little something to my mother. Nothing special; no real value; but something I knew she wanted and was having difficulty getting hold of. She should have received it Tuesday. Anyhoo... Wednesday I called her and asked if it had arrived. “Oh yes,” she says. “Thank you for that.” Now, I’m not a send-me-a-thankyou-letter kind of guy, but when something arrives, unexpected, out of the blue, don’t you pick up the phone and say, “What a nice surprise”? No, clearly not everyone does. I would.

You know what? I’m gonna get me some of those What Would Jesus Do wristbands and put my name in place of His.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Forgetful dunker

I hate when I do that: bring a cup of coffee up to my desk, fully intending to dunk some chocolate digestives. Then the coffee gets a bit too cold too quickly while I’m working and makes dunking all but impossible. Unfortunate. And of course it also leaves me as hungry as before.

Listening to: The Complete Buddy Holly, disc 2

Monday, March 20, 2006

American Idol

I like American Idol. However, the songs they sing on the show are invariably incredibly bad – largely because Americans are so hung up on R&B and Country. We are thankfully spared such inanities most of the time in our own UK-based Pop Idol, X Factor, and the like. But last week American Idol sunk to a new low: the music of Stevie Wonder. Am I the only person in the world who sees no value in this man’s work? It is so god-awful; to me, he’s a washed-up talentless hack. All we can do is take it in our stride and patiently await the shows that feature the music of My Chemical Romance, Trivium, and Arch Enemy – especially if they spend as much time trying to capture the subtle nuances of Arch Enemy’s Angela Gossow’s vocal stylings as they do those of Mariah Carey and the other squawking, vibrato-ridden buffoons that pass as pop stars these days.

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“When You Wasn’t Famous”

So there I was last night, washing up or something in the kitchen, when Wife called me into the lounge to watch the video of the new single by The Streets, “When You Wasn’t Famous”. Now, I’ve got to say, I really liked Mike Skinner’s second album, A Grand Don’t Come For Free, and I later had Original Pirate Material bought for me as a present by Wife. She knows, so I’m not offending her here, that although I think there are some good tracks on that debut album, it really doesn’t compare to the almost genius of AGDCFF. But I seriously hope this new single is not a sign of what is to come on Mike’s new album, cos it is really very very bad. I mean the lyrics, mostly, seem good, although it’s difficult to be entirely certain since so much of it was fucked about with to remove the swear words on MTV or whatever channel we were watching. But the tune... Oh. My. God. Wife summed it up best (although I think she is perhaps exaggerating a tiny bit): “It sounds like ‘Agadoo’!”

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Just because it’s Sunday, doesn’t mean Wife and I don’t have to work. It’s funny: she said to me on Friday night, “Oh good, the weekend. That means we can work without the risk of disturbance from people phoning and e-mailing us.” And it’s true – the lack of these distractions means that you can get more work done. So it’s Sunday, and we’re hard at work (although of course I’m taking a few minutes to write this).

But where external distractions are absent, we are constantly distracted by the children of our neighbours. We can hear them from both sides, but the one on one side in particular just goes on and on and on and on and on. He’s like a fucking Duracell Satan-spawn. And at the weekends he is arguably worse than during the week, cos at the weekends he’s got his two older brothers at home with him all day, when during the week they are at school.

You get to about lunchtime and you’ve got a bitch of a headache caused by someone else’s kids.

Now it’s not that we hate kids. Hate is a very strong word. We don’t wish them harm or anything like that. We just don’t get them. And we’re now at that time of life when we have very few friends who don’t have kids. They’re all at it. It’s like it’s not enough to be having sex whenever you want, you’ve got to have something to show for it too. And people with kids always want to bring their kids with them when they come to your house or go out to dinner with you. We’re like, “Can you get a sitter for X night?” And they’ll be like, “No, it’s okay, we’ll bring him/her/it with us.” Maybe we should start saying, “Get a sitter or we’ll cancel, you selfish fuck.” Kids and grown-up sit-down dinners where you can catch up with your friends just don’t mix. They start crying, and then if it’s a particularly young baby, the mother has to lop her tits out for it to suck on while you’re all trying to chat like this isn’t happening. Yeah, it’s normal, blah blah, blah. But is it normal to be whacking them out at the drop of a hat? I mean, she wouldn’t be doing it if the kid didn’t want a drag of it, would she?

No, kids are vile. Or maybe they’re all right if they don’t live with you and you can put them back in their box when you’re bored of ’em. Until then, count us out, baby.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

So-called “R&B”

Who can possibly like this music? I mean, really. The lyrics, such as they are, are written (and I use the term loosely) for idiots. The melodies, if you can find them, are horrendous. This stuff is designed for the brain-dead. My neighbour loves it – nuff said. Artists such as Usher, and R Kelly, and that tiny little man whose name I forget but he was supposed to be the next big thing a few months ago: I ask you, where is the talent?

And why did they name it after R&B? At least the old type of R&B had something going for it. And it has nothing that I can see in common with this more recent abortion.

Films I’ve seen this year (part 1)

(in the order I saw them):

Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (not as good as the first one!)
Ong Bak (slightly disappointing; I expected more)
Valentin (very good, touching little movie)
Dark Days (amazing documentary)
Closer (okay...)
Le Chiavi di Casa (good in parts)
My Favorite Year (funny)
Ping Pong (interesting subject; a bit slow in parts)
Brokeback Mountain (liked it)
Storytelling (good)
The Twilight Samurai (really good)
Il Bagno Turco (Hamam) (good little movie)
Salò o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma (worth seeing, but no fun)
Ma Mère (forgettable, but interesting in places)
Amores Perros (excellent movie)
Wolf Creek (disappointing and overhyped, but good in places)
Outfoxed (fascinating doc)
Kolya (not what I was expecting, but good)
Dead Man’s Shoes (really good, but slightly disappointing ending)
The Machinist (well disappointing; and derivative)
Finding Neverland (enjoyed it)
Downfall (very good)
The Road to Guantanamo (good)
Homicide (disappointing)
The Descent (disappointing)

Click here for part 2 of the list.


thinking ’bout Venice while sitting here working.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Is it too much to ask that the people you work for treat you with a modicum of respect? And that they communicate with you? And that they don’t just treat you like a chimp? Clearly, for some, it is. This is an age-old problem.

Broken home

I guess I am now officially the product of a broken home. Whereas most people go through their parents’ break-up when they are young, my parents chose to wait until their youngest child was in her late 20s. I’m the eldest. And not a she. What is it about a couple that breaks up in their mid-50s? What kind of crazy shit is that? You’d think that by that time of life, you’re pretty much done with the “finding someone else” thing, no?

It all started more than 18 months ago, but now finally my mother has come around and decided to move on with her life. Good for her. But now I’m like, “This is weird: my parents have boyfriends and girlfriends!” Can’t say I’m looking forward to my next visit to Hometown.

Meanwhile, of course, my siblings have met our “new step-parents”. I mean, they’re not our step-parents yet – and maybe they never will be – but the very notion freaks me out.

Now my head hurts. Better get on with some work and numb the pain with tedium.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Lawdy lawdy

No time for blogging today, either. All work and no play makes Nowt a
dull boy. All work and no play makes Nowt a dull boy. All work and no
play makes Nowt a dull boy. All work and no play makes Nowt a dull boy.

No time

Slow day yesterday, blogging-wise. Just too much damn work to do. And it’s likely to be the same today. Shame, because it’s fun writing any old crap that comes into your head: it saves you from saying it out loud and making a fool of yourself.

Woken up again this morning by the little shit next door. I don't know what time it was; I just know that it wasn’t “waking-up o’clock”. Think I’m going to have to have a word with the mother. As Jerry Seinfeld says in one of his terrible stand-up club-routine sequences in Seinfeld: “I never used to be the shusher; I was the shushee.”

But why do people feel the need to have kids? They’re generally so disagreeable. There is a lot more milage in this theme. To be continued...

In other news, I felt a bit bad about hissing at Cat yesterday evening. He came back but wasn’t all that pleased to see me. He’s kinda passive aggressive like that: “I won’t come near you, and then we’ll see who misses out on the other’s company,” he says.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mean kitty

Cat just attacked me for no good reason. There we were in the garden
after I’d just put out the rubbish; we're walking back towards the door
together and he swiped at my leg. I point to him: “What was that for?”
I ask. He swipes at my hand with both front paws, drawing blood, as is
his way. I say – well, I won’t repeat here what I said. So he attacks
my leg again and hisses at me. Uncharacteristically, I decided to hiss
back. He didn’t like that and ran away from me. He’ll come back, all
sweetness and light, soon enough. Little bugger. He is cute when he’s
cute, though.


... apparently I can blog via e-mail, too. That’s pretty rad!

Cat humping

Everyone knows that dogs like humping things – their owners, the draught excluder, cuddly toys, whatever. But our cat likes humping our arms. He’s eight years old and he’s been doing this since he was a kitten – like, even before he was neutered. I’ve never heard of other cats doing this. I don’t mind: I mean, who am I to deny a frustrated feline? But is he the only cat who does this? Bless him!

Wake up!

6.45 this morning. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang! Silence. “Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!” Little shit next door.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Aaagghh, the waiting...

I can’t believe it’s approaching ten months since I was last under the needle of my tattooist – and it doesn’t seem that I’ll be going anytime soon, what with work commitments and all. And the time before that it was another whole year, almost to the day. It’s no wonder that when I do go, I have to go for 3- or 4-hour sessions.

Last time I went I continued with my left sleeve, adding some work to the background of the temple dog on my forearm. But additional to that, I also got my word for Shelley Jackson’s Skin project. It’s really very cool to be involved with something quite so – I don’t know – arcane, almost. While I’m perfectly happy to spread the word (no pun intended) about Jackson’s human work of literature, it’s the sort of project that will forever have observers asking, “Why?” And I guess to those poor unfortunate souls who aren’t tattooed, it must seem odd: why would someone devote a part of their skin to a word not of their own choosing and that could theoretically even be a word that some might find offensive? People who can’t conceive even of having a tattoo at all must think this plain stupid. How many times have tattooed people been asked, “Why would you do that to yourself?” Plenty, that’s how many. So the question is even more expected – perhaps even more valid – when you essentially donate that part of your skin to such an esoteric cause.

For me, though, the notion was exciting. To be just one word of some 2,000, none of which is of any real value without the others; but equally the whole is not fully realized without any single one willing participant. A piece of a jigsaw puzzle, without which the full picture can never be seen.

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Wife took me to Venice last week (early March '06). The trip was a birthday present; isn’t Wife good to me? And what a great city. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen it in films or on TV, nothing can compare to the reality. I’ve been to a bunch of the big, well-known Italian cities now, and I think this one is my favourite. It’s just so great having no traffic around: no cars, motorbikes, or cycles are allowed, and we didn’t see any skateboards either. I saw one person on rollerblades, but she was going at a walking pace. It just seems like such a laid-back place. And I love that the drinking culture is one of alcohol, rather than the coffee-supping of most of Italy. Taking a break from shopping or their working day, the locals grab a glass of wine at a bar/café and then go back about their business. I suppose in part that is due to not having to worry about drink-driving. I’m sure I’ll post some pics soon. I just needed to write some stuff down, cos the more you get back into the swing of work and stuff, the harder it gets to recall how fab it is to have a holiday. But we must never forget, and we must always take time off from our boring 9-to-5s, even if it’s just a long weekend or so.


A lie-in

No dogs this morning, thankfully. Vaguely aware of the three-year-old boy-child making some noise, but still managed to sleep till about 8.15. That’s more like it!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Isle of Dogs

Yes, I love dogs – who doesn’t? I am a dog, being born in the Chinese Year of the Dog, and this year is my year and theirs. What I hate, though, among many things, is being woken up at 7.15 in the morning by my neighbours’ dogs barking in the bedroom next door to mine. Now, 7.15 may sound like luxury to some people, but it doesn’t matter: I was asleep, and the next thing I know, I’m not. Through no fault of my own. That really gets my goat.

Say it ain’t so

According to Italian news site, Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel have announced that they are reforming Genesis. Why, for the love of God, why?! Surely this is the last thing the world needs. May God have mercy on us all.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Seinfeld is a show about nothing – a show about nowt. Of course, it’s not really about nothing – nothing is. Wife and I have bought all the DVD releases so far, as well as having every episode on tape from TV broadcasts. Even so, whenever we happen to catch it on TV, usually on Paramount Comedy in the UK, we just have to watch it. It’s astonishing how many great quotes feature in every episode, stuff that over the years has become part of our language – that’s our language in the sense of mine and Wife’s and our circle of friends – things like “That chimp’s all right”, “On your back, like a turtle”, “High five”, and “I don’t care for that term”, all of which are actually from the same fantastic episode. But of course there are others: “I mentioned the bisque”, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”, “Master of my domain”, “Hellooooooooo”... I could go on but shouldn’t. There’s work to do.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


nowt n Northern English. A dialect word for nothing.

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