are the stars out tonight?

life and stuff


i'm in a cracking mood today. i found my old copy of tetris, which plugs not so neatly into the back of my beautiful new platinum gameboy advance. i'd completely forgotten how addictive it was. but despite stu's doubts, it hasn't stopped me working - i did 5 hours of revision today! i'm not sure i've ever done that much work.

then i did laura llew's basic eight quiz and i only had to cheat a bit to be

that ain't water natasha
i actually got flannery first time, but i'd much rather be non-existent than homicidal. really. so i was thrilled with that.

and of course, this morning a letter came from lady margaret hall, oxford for il fratellino (i've been revising italian, bear with me). he didn't think he'd done very well, so when the letter arrived and it was thin (true fact - rejection letters thin, acceptance letters fat because they've got all the stuff you need like accomodation forms) we assumed he hadn't got in. turned out they'd just forgotten the stuff. so hurrah for tom. i'm going to get him a copy of brideshead revisited tomorrow to celebrate. which is a nice ironic present, given that the only really famous lmh graduate is ann widdecombe, who is shockingly homophobic.


christmas is all gone now. and i can't say i'm too sorry. i find the whole thing rather stressful - not least being enclosed 24 hours a day with my family! we went down to kent for boxing day to see my aunts and nana. i think nana's brain is on its way out, she lost her hearing aid this morning and she couldn't think where she'd put it. turned out it was in the bin. my aunts seem alright about it, but i think they're pretty upset - maureen kept saying that she didn't want to end up like that. to take her mind off uncle tony (who died in february this year), she's got a couple of kittens, whisky and tigger, who are both absolutely gorgeous and have awakened kitten lust in me again, last time i had that we ended up getting midnight (who had a black velvet diamond-effect collar for his christmas present from me this year).

so now i have to decide what i'm going to do for new year's eve. 1) go to york and spend it with stuart and chris j and co. 2) stay in london and go to popstarz with jess and milena and co. or 3) new year's eve in kent with mum, dad and the aunts. now horrible as option 3 might sound, it's been a bit of shit year for all of them, and i'd like to be able to liven up their new year, so the whole thing doesn't descend into a sob fest. course it won't be as much fun as popstarz or york, but there's less ex potential in kent! what should i do? answers on a postcard to the usual address.


well, with around 3 hours to the day itself i thought i'd like to share a couple of my favourite christmas poems, which was inspired by someone searching for 'christmas polem' on here the other day.

my all time favourite poem for this time of the year is of course the night before christmas by clement c moore (here's an extract):
'"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.'

but i also love the journey of the magi by ts eliot:
'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
...There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.'

and on that cheery note, i'll say "happy christmas to all and to all a good night!"


i wasn't going to post until christmas, but there were a couple of things i wanted to write about briefly.

jarvis is moving to paris with his luverly wife, and i'm fairly sure that pulp people isn't coming back, judging from the 'greatest hits of pulp people aka disco very' fanzine that came through my door the other day. wow. i think the death of br*tpop has truly hit us. what with blur's new album being produced sans graham coxon and the dissolution of pulp. and what happened to that album that mansun were so excited about when i interviewed them in may? i'm afraid it might have to be time to admit that 1995 was 8 years ago and things change. sad though it may be.

joe strummer died yesterday. i'm almost angry about this - punk legends shouldn't die of heart attacks at 50 - they should either live forever or die young. heck, he won't even make it into the end of year 'this is who died' columns, 'cos they've all already been printed. bad luck joe.

on a happier note, mum and i went to tate modern to get dad's christmas present. they've got this massive red sculpture in the turbine hall. we both thought it was really good, although most of the stuff they've got there is grate!


stu and i went to how does it feel to be loved on thursday hmmm, how to describe it? "1-2-3-4 just 3 pounds on the door! 5-6-7-8 and the club was really grate! gimme a g - gimme an r - gimmie an a - gimmie a t - gimme an e - what does it spell? grate! woooh" in a "but i'm a cheerleader" styleee (just so you know, on the but i'm a cheerleader quiz i came out (hee) as graham. score!). of course, struan was there playing some records (mostly eighties classics!!), so there were lots of sinister kids around, including archel, mark who was djing, and maddie. excellent time was had by all, especially when struan played kids in america which i have been hearing a lot while playing gta vice city. and i didn't get so drunk that i fell over (i would link to this in my archive, but i'm too ashamed).


just quickly mike is doing this. and i'm sure my friends would say i was a blogaholic, but i can only get 6 (out of 56)! and that's only 'cos they're on my blogroll for heaven's sake. but if i read more blogs i shall certainly fail my degree. damn. damn. why am i so competitive?


thanks to the nice man at computing services, i now know how to put pictures on the internet without using bluddy yahoo (which kept making them disappear). to celebrate, i've replaced the jam eating picture with one of me in a jaunty christmas cracker style party hat. hurrah.


a christmassy feel seemed appropriate, as it's now the last day of term, so i've gone all red and green. which explains why that picture of me in the top right looks like i'm eating jam... mmm jam. i'm working on a big redesign for some time in the new year, so i was delighted to discover that i could upload css to my geocities account, which i generally don't use very much. huzzah all round. i'm also working on improving the accessibility of '..stars..' for disabled web-users, using this useful site. it's a slow process, but i'm trying at least.

enough geekery. i'm sleep deprived and quite hungry, having had to get up this morning to start work on a presentation which took place, er, this morning. when will i learn? still it went not too badly in the end, but i've got no idea how i'm going to do in the module over all (which was orally assessed). will geoff and judith mistake my shyness for not having anything to say (or my not having anything to say for shyness which is probably more likely). i feel like i've been a bit stretched thin this term and i'm quite glad it's over.

finally, i'd like to award a prize to gina for distracting me from my degree almost as much as this blog does. the hunt for lemony snicket is addictive damnit, addictive! although i also rather like online scalextric - it's all in foreign, but it's easy enough to work out what you're supposed to be doing, although i'm not sure how you make the two player work. anyone speak swedish? i'm off to bed (and yes i know how early it is, but i'm tired now!).

update 15/12/02. damn damn, my nice christmas piccies aren't working, so i've had to put up the normal ones. it's a horrible clash, but at least there aren't nasty blank bits.


mostly because of olav i read the secret history by donna tartt. embarrassingly, i read a 630 page novel in just under 12 hours. but maybe that tells you how good it was rather than how quickly i read. it was great.

what it mostly made me feel was like i wished i'd been better at ancient greek which i took up to gcse, grew bored and got a c. the characters in the secret history are constantly exchanging bon mots in greek, and the most i can manage is 'oi
' (you'd be surprised how difficult it is to get greek onto a webpage, and it doesn't even have bluddy aspirations), which you pronounce hoi polem-ee-oy, and it means 'the enemy'. not exactly one you can drop into conversation on a regular basis, although i do try.

i wish i'd made a bit more effort with xenophon and co. but at the time there were much more important things to be worrying about than a bunch of blokes carrying wicker shields covered in the skins of shaggy oxen. and so on.

of course now i've emerged from the haze of depression i spent most of my teens in and i'd like to know some of the stuff i was taught. i do feel like i wasted that time, and while it wasn't entirely my fault, i'll never have opportunites like that again. oh well, i guess i'll just dig out my old wilding and start all over again with rwdwdendron (rhododendron).


had a nice dream last night - kissing n (whose name shall henceforth be obscured because i don't want her knowing) *sigh*. she came to the gig tonight (well yesterday judging by the time actually). oh lust, i am your captive.

why am i talking in such a mock tudor way? well the gig was in an actually tudor pub. we were performing in front of some kind of tapestry thingy which pictured henry VIII and his monarch-kids. which was pretty strange really. the gig was good though, chris j's violin was a bit out of tune on 'sorry', but as that's the only one he plays it on it was fine. everyone loved 'kitten called clive' *yay*. i was disappointed that we didn't get to play 'concentration' (which i wrote) because ryan shirlow who was organising it was stressing about noise levels.

we stayed for ryan's set and it was grate. ryan's a bit like neil hannon or maybe jarvis cocker, in terms of songwriting. he writes really good songs, and i was thrilled to hear 'd-flowered' which is probably my favourite of his songs (it features the lyrics "morning has broken just like your hymen" and "do you still like the cure, how fucking obscure. and the books that you read, some shit about vampires" - what's not to love?). stu pointed out that all of ryan's songs have swearing in them, but i like that *s*. i enjoyed the whole evening muchly.


i woke up this morning with 8 minutes to get to my seminar. i'm quite impressed that i made it and was only about 2 minutes late. i haven't moved that quickly in quite some time. the seminar was on the buddha of suburbia, which is jarvis' favourite book. and looking at it it's fairly obvious why. the novel concentrates on the exploits of a bisexual british asian from saarf london, and a david bowie fan. jarvis is all of those things. also, karim (the protagonist), gets a part in a production of the jungle book (and not the sodding disney version either) playing mowgli.

jarvis and i met when we were both in a production of the jungle book at the open air theatre. i think you can guess which part he was playing. i had been cast as "chil the kite, the jungle dustman and undertaker" (thrillingly), which was an extremely minor role, but then i kept being given more and more, until i was playing about 3 or 4 different parts, so i was quite happy in the end.

what i had forgotten until last night, when i was listening to radio 4's book of the week, my life as me by barry humphries (aka dame edna). he mentioned lionel bart, reminding me that the great man came to see the show with a niece or something. he came backstage and before he left he gave his number to jarvis. we all wondered what for - was it a sex thing? was it for an acting job? what else could it be? we went on and on at jarvis to phone the number, but he never did and less than a year later, mr bart died. so we will never know exactly what he wanted from jarvis.


today is world aids day and i'm participating in the link and think project. i didn't really know all that much about hiv and aids until this summer, when i was writing an essay on "aids and the family" in contemporary america, or more specifically about douglas coupland's all families are psychotic and armistead maupin's the night listener.

since mum has worked on a couple of aids drugs, she helped by directing me here and eventually even i, with my limited amount of biology, got to understand what a protease inhibitor is, and what viral load means.

so armed with my biological knowlege, i then started to research the politics of aids, using larry kramer's reports from the holocaust: the story of an aids activist. kramer is a co-founder of the gay men's health crisis, which was pretty much the first response to a disease which was then known as "grid" (gay related immune deficiency) or "gay cancer" - they also forced the name change. kramer also went onto co-found act up

although i was writing about america, i was also interested in the history aids in the uk. so i read simon watney's practices of freedom and imagine hope. like kramer, watney had been involved in a gay liberation group before aids, and he became involved with the terence higgins trust early on.

so what did i learn from all this research? being diagnosed as being hiv positive isn't the death sentence it was in the early years of aids. people with aids are living longer and longer, thanks to cocktails of drugs. last year in the uk, 4 164 people were diagnosed with hiv, and there were an estimated 33 500 people living with aids in this country, just under a third of whom are undiagnosed. last year saw the lowest number of aids related deaths in the uk for more than a decade, but i'm loathe to believe that it's because people know that the best way to survive the pandemic is to avoid exposure to hiv at all.

my generation (i was born in 1981) has never really been taught anything about hiv. anything i know is because i've been involved in the liberation campaigns at uni, merely coincidental really. green fairy points out a few of the myths: 1 in 3 18-24 year olds believe there is a cure for aids, 1 in 10 think it can be caught from toilet seats, 1 in 4 from kissing. well, it reminds me why i became an lgb rep, except of course that heterosexual sex is now the most common form of transmission. it's true: "In 2001 heterosexual acquisition accounted for 52% of the total reported HIV diagnoses." my generation has never seen a world without aids, and unless the government starts making sure we really do understand hiv, i doubt we will.

other resources: uk aids statistics, guardian special report on aids, british hiv association, united nations aids project, nhs introduction to aids.