Monthly Archives: November 2007

Start spreading the news/ I’m leavin’ today…

… Although I’m actually leaving on 23 December, but the principle’s the same. Yes – to celebrate my return to the outside world I’ve booked four nights in wonderful New York over Christmas! I’ve never been, I’ve always wanted to see the city and I had just enough left on my credit card to pay for the trip. (I’m trying not to think about how that money should probably have gone to the taxman next year. Oh well.)

I emailed the Empire State Building yesterday to ascertain their plans for Christmas Day and discovered that they’re open until 2am. So, I’m going to watch the sunset from the once-tallest-building-in-the-world, probably singing “Ding dong merrily on high” and irritating everybody around me. Now THERE’S a plan!

(Additional cool factor: there’s an email in my inbox right now which says “Sender: The Empire State Building”. I had an image of the skyscraper trying to get its ginormous concrete fingers to fit on a keyboard…)

Next up: Vancouver in March, to stay with my lovely friend Justine. I’m probably booking the ticket next week. Money? Be damned. I have a lifetime to pay it off. After having such a rotten year healthwise, I’ve realised that life is too bloody short to worry about a few hundred quid. If my back gives out again and surgery can’t help, I’ll regret never strolling through Central Park. Some things just have to be done, dangnabbit!

I’m a teeny tiny bit excited now.

On Monday I had a fabulous time in Camden with artist Judith Clute, who is now one of my most favouritest people after a four-hour gossip and a tour of her extraordinary house. Books, books, paintings and more books… it was incredible. Barely a flash of bare wall in the building! What a marvellous woman she is – and so inspiring. She also knows Harlan Ellison, who you may spot further down on this blog in an earlier entry, and regaled me with tales of his very own spectacular house. Suddenly my flat, decorated as it is with floor-to-ceiling pictures and stuffed with so many plants it resembles the forests of Borneo, seems very drab indeed.

I need to buy me some bookshelves.

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Take It To The Bridge

My kittens went to their new home on Friday night and were promptly renamed Vince and Howard after the stars of The Mighty Boosh, so their new owners are people of discerning taste in both pets and TV shows. I have to say, it’s really odd having no felines about the place any more. I miss the purring but blimey, I don’t miss the sneezing! Cats with cat flu? Messy. My sofa covers were in the washing machine before the little tykes were even in the car…

I’m not getting any more foster cats until the New Year, so I’m trying to get used to life as a singleton again. I’ve spent most of the weekend cleaning and I fear I overdid it a little; every part of me aches as much as my flat shines. Still, it was worth it. I even managed to wrap 95% of my Christmas presents (I’m unable to wrap the remaining 5%, mainly because I don’t have them yet) as well as sort out my photo collection, which has been taking up five large albums and a two huge boxes for several years. Now it takes up one small plastic container and a lot of wall space in my kitchen. Earlier I walked in there naked (I’d just had a shower – I wasn’t being kinky or anything, honest) and realised all my friends and family were staring at me, so I ran away to get a towel pretty sharpish. Um, which you probably didn’t need to know. Sorry…

Over the last few days I’ve managed to fit in a lot of films, mostly documentaries. The Bridge was a thoughtful, sombre and occasionally terrifying study of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the most popular suicide spot in the world. I thought it would consist of interviews with relatives and the odd person who’d failed in their attempt to end their life, and mostly it did – including one guy who said he knew “the minute his hands left the handrail” that he wanted to live. He survived his fall off the bridge thanks to luck, the way he hit the water and a friendly seal who swam over to investigate before hanging around to keep him afloat. The fortunate chap observed that the seal was proof of the existence of God, and it’s hard disagree with him there.

Disturbingly, however, there was footage in The Bridge of people jumping: lost souls committing their final act, often prefaced by their families and acquaintances discussing events leading up to their deaths. The final victim’s leap, slowly built up to during the course of the film, was so spectacular – and chilling – it may very well stay with me forever.

Not a film to watch if you’re feeling down, but amazing. And oh, so sad.

I also watched the Metallica documentary Some Kind Of Monster, which was a bit of a gamble on my part because before spinning it in my DVD player I couldn’t have named a single song by the band or any one of its members. That didn’t matter, though, because it was a fascinating study of a group of men self-destructing while recording an album which, thankfully, had a happy ending. I’m not one for watching a film straight through; I usually turn it off a few times to make coffee or pop to the loo. Some Kind Of Monster had the honour of being watched straight through with no breaks at all – a rare beast. Great stuff, although I’m still not sure about the music. All their songs sound the same! And LOUD!

(Ducks as all the metal-heads reading this pelt me with eggs. Or whatever the hell metal-heads throw. Anyone know?)

Right, enough of the rambling film criticism… Top Gear is about to start. Sunday nights are priceless at the moment: Jeremy Clarkson and the gang making me howl with laughter at 8pm followed by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman making me wish I was in their gang in Long Way Down at 9pm. Go BBC!

Tomorrow I’m heading off to have a coffee with a lovely artist I met at Neil Gaiman’s party the other week, before going clothes shopping in Camden. Have I mentioned recently how wonderful it is to walk again? No? Well, it bloody well is. So there.

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Photo Play

Wow, I have a lot of photos to post today! (Apologies if the formatting looks funny on your screen – I can’t seem to get it to work…)

First off, I am SFX‘s “Flame-Haired Vixen Of Science Fiction” once more:

And, as you can see from this shot of me investigating a sculpture in Regents Park, I’m also upright and walking again:

I’m walking so much, in fact, that I have blisters on my poor unused feet. After such a horrible, painful year, just looking up and seeing a sky instead of a ceiling is bliss personified. Here’s what I found by the London Eye a few days ago:

Seeing such a whopping Anubis prompted me to buy tickets for the Tutankhamun exhibition, so I guess he did his job. Got me hankering after a few Stargate SG-1 episodes, too…

Unfortunately, my return to the outside world means I can’t foster any felines for a while, seeing as I’m rarely home to look after them. Joss and Wash – the ginger kittens I took in two months ago – are finally well enough to go to a new home tomorrow, although quite how I’m going to say goodbye to this cuteness is beyond me:

(Of course, ten seconds after I took this pic, they were beating each other up. They can only be cute in short bursts.) The boys have grown like mad since I got them, and here’s the proof. Remember how Joss used to watch Michael Palin’s Around The World In Eighty Days?

He still likes travel shows. This is him watching Ewan McGregor in Long Way Down the other night. My, how he’s grown!

And that’s quite enough of the pictures, thank you!

So… thanks to all the SFX readers who’ve wished me well after the operation. Rest assured I should be writing my next column right now instead of messing about on my blog, so, um, I guess things are back to normal!

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The Kids Are Alright

I went to a screening of Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium today.

Sunday morning screenings are generally reserved for family films, and the PR companies usually make events out of them to entice children along with their parents. Kids often have their faces painted, wear costumes, receive free toys and sweets and have a whale of a time.* This morning’s film was no exception: the cinema was filled with sprogs clutching balloon animals and paper aeroplanes. There were jugglers, goodie bags on every seat and even a man on a unicycle wheeling around in front of the screen.

Fun to watch, but as the film began I realised, with a sinking heart, that every child in the building had been WOUND UP TO HIGH HEAVEN and there was NO WAY they’d be able to sit still to watch the movie. It was going to be HELL. I’ve lived through it before; Sunday morning screenings are, quite often, miserable experiences.

But you know what? I was wrong! The whole cinema sat transfixed – including the baby sitting in front of me, who gurgled happily on his mom’s lap and didn’t screech at all (as babies are wont to do in cinemas). I was very impressed. I have no idea why they were so well-behaved, but if every Sunday morning screening was like this, I wouldn’t object to getting out of bed at 7.30am ever again.

Film wasn’t too painful, either. I wish my eyebrows looked as good as Natalie Portman’s.

* When I wrote the words ‘whale of a time’, I happened to glance up at Sky News and saw they were running a story about how Japan are hunting humpback whales again. So I guess that’s an expression that really shouldn’t be used any more…

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Don’t Call Him A Science Fiction Writer, Or He’ll Find You And Tear Out Your Liver*

Today I went back to work after nearly three months, and it was great! Right up until 3pm, at least, which was when I got all sleepy and found myself wanting to go home. There’s no pleasing some people, eh?

Still, I enjoyed seeing everybody again, and they enjoyed commenting on my BRIGHT new hair colour. Once again I am SFX‘s “flame-haired vixen of science fiction”! And people stare at me when I’m on the Underground, too. BRIGHT. I’m tellin’ ya. REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BRIGHT. Phew!

And now onto someone who’s definitely not a flame-haired vixen, but certainly possesses an opinion on science fiction… I found the following 1980 interview with the author Harlan Ellison on YouTube today. He expresses some rather strong views on being called a science fiction writer.

Stick with the interview to the end – it’s worth it:

Isn’t he great? I stumbled across the footage by accident but it’s rekindled my twentysomething love for Ellison’s work.

I’m off to read “Repent, Harlequin!” Said The Ticktockman for the eleventy billionth time now.

Mrmee, mrmee, mrmee…

* This is what Ellison told Starlog many, many years ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since (can’t think why). The guy’s just made of quotes!

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Oh, My Aching Feet…

You know, two weeks ago I couldn’t stand up for more than ten minutes.

Yesterday I was on my feet for TEN WHOLE HOURS.

I can’t believe how much the surgery has affected my life. I actually have a life now!

I celebrated my return to the World of the Walking by spending last night in a frightfully posh hotel chatting to lots of frightfully interesting people, and it was all thanks to Neil Gaiman, who was kind enough to invite me to his birthday bash. I’d planned to have a day out in London with my friend Gillen – culminating in a cup of tea in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral, my second favourite place in the capital after the Natural History Museum (how I’ve missed them both!) – but we saved our energies for the party instead.

The conversation (and champagne) flowed. I finally got to meet author Geoff Ryman (who was a scream); comedian Mitch Benn sang a very amusing song (before the hotel told him he was keeping their guests awake and stifled his guitar) and Neil spent the whole night smiling and introducing people and being quite possibly the best party host ever.

My favourite part of the night was chatting to actress Joanna Scanlon in the ladies’ loo and discussing her role as one of the witches in Stardust. I thought, seeing as many of her scenes were performed with Michelle Pfeiffer, that she’d talk about her, but instead she told me how working with a baboon was rather scary because baboons are nasty little buggers who think they’re far superior to every human on the planet. As far as “ladies loos” conversations go, I don’t think I’ve ever had a stranger one.

The taxi driver who drove me home from the hotel in the wee small hours was curious to know whose party I’d just attended. I pointed at a poster of Stardust on the side of a passing bus and said, “The guy who wrote that film.” And then pointed to a billboard on the opposite side of the road which displayed a huge Beowulf poster and said, “Oh, and that film, too.”

Impressed, the driver then asked a lots of questions about how much you get paid for writing a movie – a subject I know nothing about – and seemed annoyed that I couldn’t tell him, so I changed the subject by pointing at Buckingham Palace and asking him if he thought it smelt of old ladies and corgi dogs. For the next ten minutes he let me know, in no uncertain terms, that Her Majesty wouldn’t stand for any smells in her home and that she’d use air fresheners. I was very happy when he dropped me off…

And blimey, my poor feet ached. I haven’t stood for so long since January. Loved every goddamn minute though. Thanks, Neil!

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Oops, I Did It Again…

Another new look! I’ll actually get round to writing something interesting soon. Honest.

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